Keep Your Diet Nutty

Over the past few months Disease Proof has posted numerous articles citing the benefits of eating raw nuts. Nuts protect against heart disease, provide a potent source of Vitamin E, and help to lower cholesterol.

Almonds Are In is dedicated to informing the public about almonds. The site boasts a lot of interesting facts about these "crunchy characters" and urges individuals to incorporate them into a healthy lifestyle. The site claims, "The tasty almond delivers not only flavor and texture to everything it's added to, but also more complete nutrition than you can imagine in just one handful."

One of the big knocks against nuts, including the almond, is high fat content. But that kind of fat is healthy. In his book Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman encourages consumption of nuts even for those trying to lose weight:

Nuts and seeds contain 150-200 calories per ounce. Eating a small amount—one ounce or less—each day, however, adds valuable nutrients and healthy unprocessed fats. Nuts and seeds are ideal in salad dressings, particularly when blended with an orange and spices or vegetable juice. Always eat nuts and seeds raw because the roasting process alters their beneficial fats. Commercially packaged nuts and seeds are often cooked in hydrogenated oils, adding trans fats and sodium to your diet, so these are absolutely off the list. If you find that you tire of eating nuts or seeds raw, try lightly toasting them at home—this does not deplete their beneficial properties and adds some variety for pleasure. Among the raw nuts and seeds you can add to your diet are almonds, cashews, walnuts, black walnuts, pecans, filberts, hickory nuts, macadamias, pignolis, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed.
For other people (those who do not need to lose weight and athletes for instance) Dr. Fuhrman encourages eating even more nuts.

Monkeys Don't Sit Under Banana Trees Eating Bananas All Day

The Seattle Times reports on a new weight-loss plan, entitled "The Flavor Point Diet." The idea behind it is to outwit the chemicals, especially in processed foods, that make us want to eat more:

Fast food and packaged snacks push all kinds of flavor buttons, some of them almost secretly. Katz observes that we might reach for our favorite breakfast cereal because it's sweet, not realizing it's also loaded with salt. Ditto for the salty corn crisps that are nearly as sweet as the cereal. We might not detect it, but our brains do. As a result, we tend to eat more of these foods…

…He defuses this dietary bomb by narrowing each day's flavor options and providing variety over time, not all in one mouthful.

The menu for each day of a six-week program centers on a specific taste theme. For example, there is "peach day," with a fresh peach on whole-grain cereal for breakfast, a peach jam (all-fruit) and peanut butter (natural) sandwich on whole-grain bread for lunch and peach-coriander turkey with oven-roasted potatoes and turnips for dinner. (The recipes are in the book.) There is also walnut day, tomato day, lemon day, bell-pepper day, thyme day and other flavor-theme days.

Dr. Fuhrman addresses appetite satiety in a different way. As he explains in Disease Proof Your Child:

All primates, including humans, are driven to consume food from a variety of categories. Contrary to popular belief, a monkey does not sit under a banana tree eating bananas all day. He eats bananas and then may travel half a mile away to find a different type of food. He has an innate drive to consume variety; just satisfying the caloric drive is not enough. Likewise, children [or humans] will not be satisfied with eating only one or two foods; they will want to eat a portion of one food and want another type of food. As a higher-order animal with a bigger brain, we search for a variety of nutrient sources, and this variety assures that we get the broad assortment of nutrients that increases our immune function and longevity potential. I call this desire for different foods our variety driver.

The sense of taste is very important factor triggering the release of digestive juices and initiating the process of proper digestion. Taste can also be a guide for the body to judge the correct amount of food to consume, providing one is eating natural food. To satisfy true hunger, natural food tastes great. As the appetite is satiated, the thrill of eating diminishes and we feel we have had enough. Yet when we are exposed to processed foods, the body's natural signals to stop eating are disturbed. We offer tasty treats and desserts to stimulate and already-full appetite further and entice all to eat more. Then the unhealthier the diet becomes, the more food addition plays a role in governing appetite. We feel the need to imbibe when we get accustomed to consuming unhealthful foods. Unhealthful foods are addicting; healthy foods are not, and do not induce overeating.

Most Weight Loss Plans Are a Waste of Your Money

What is wrong with every single commercial weight-loss program? They are all too high in fat and too low in fiber because they cater to the American love affair with rich, high fat food.

Weight Watchers' brand foods contain 24 percent of calories from fat. Lean Cuisine contains 25 percent of calories from fat. The Jenny program requires the purchase of packaged meals with entrees such as cheese souffl� and Salisbury steak, meals that are almost as bad as what most Americans eat at home. These commercial diet plans, since they are not very low in fat, must restrict portion sizes to offer "low calorie" meals. These "skimpy" portions represent an obsolete approach with a dismal track record.

It is merely a matter of time before those trying to keep their portions small increase the amount of food they are eating. The amount of fiber is insufficient and the nutrient density of the diet is poor. These diets restrict calories, but because the food choices and meal plans are so calorie-dense, the dieters must eat tiny portions in order to lose weight. These choices don't satisfy our desire to eat, and we wind up craving food and becoming frustrated. When dieters can't stand eating thimble-sized portions anymore and finally eat until satisfied, they put on weight on with a vengeance. You may be able to hold your breath under water for a short period, but when you resurface you will be hungry for air and will be forced to speed up your respiratory rate. In a similar manner, if you cannot eat small portions forever, it just isn't likely to work for long.

You can't eat out of boxes and consume powdered drinks forever, either. If you do lose weight, you will always gain it back. Instead, permanent changes in your eating habits must be made. Learning new recipes and adopting different ways of eating that you can live with will maintain your weight loss and protect your health for the rest of your life.

New York Nixes Full-Fat Milk in Schools

The New York Times reports that school districts in the Bronx and Manhattan won't be going the "whole" way with milk any more. New York education officials decided to eliminate whole milk as part of a larger movement to curb childhood obesity. Martin Oestreicher, executive director of school support services explains that this initiative is all about children's livelihoods:

"We got rid of white bread; you'll never see any white bread in our schools—it's all about whole-wheat bread, frankfurter buns, hamburger buns. We reformulated a lot of items. It all goes in the context of trying to cut down the obesity index in our kids."

The article mentions that New York City is not the first major district to stop serving whole milk. Los Angeles initiated the same ban in 2000. States such as Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut have enacted or are considering similar decisions to bar or limited the serving of whole milk in public schools.

Federal guidelines still suggest three full servings of milk per day, but school officials feel their decision will help control the fat and calorie intake of children. Dr. Fuhrman has his own concerns about childhood consumption of milk. In Disease Proof Your Child he explains that mother's milk is the best choice for natural childhood development for kids until the age of two. After that it's better to get healthy fat and calcium from other sources:

The antibodies derived from mother's milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune systems disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child's immune system is still underdeveloped until age two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother's antibodies access to the blood stream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother's immunoglobulins to supplement their own system. Nature designed it that way.

Breast-feeding for two years might be considered a prolonged time by today's standards, but this practice offers significant protection against childhood diseases, including allergies and asthma. One recent study showed that breast-feeding for less than 9 months was found to be a risk factor for asthma and after that period of time, the longer a child was breast-fed, the lower the risk of asthma.1 Avoiding cow's milk proteins, even those found in infant formulas, has also been shown to reduce asthma occurrence.2

After weaning from the breast, the same qualities that make a healthy adult diet, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, makes the best diet for children. The bottom line is to have your children develop a taste for other wholesome drinks besides cow's milk. Try soy milk or almond milk, or a mix of soy and almond. Many options are available fortified with vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium. If using dairy products or milk, stick to the fat-free variety. The fat in our children's diet should mostly come from avocadoes, nuts, and seeds, not cows.

Incidentally The New York Times article mentions that switching to soy milk would have jeopardized federal school food reimbursements.

For more of Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on children's consumption of milk read this post entitled Cow's Milk and Kids Aren't Made for Each Other.

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Wall Street Journal Addresses Low Calorie Diets

In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman cites studies that show fewer calories can mean an increased life span. Recently The Wall Street Journal printed an article supporting calorie-restricting diets. Health Journal writer Tara Parker-Pope reports:

New research shows that calorie-restriction diets -- which cut calories by as much as 40% of your normal intake -- may help you live a longer life. Earlier this month, one of the first human studies of calorie restriction showed that people on the strict diet had younger hearts than normal-weight people on a typical Western diet.

While calorie restriction may not be practical or possible for everyone, there are still lessons to be learned. What is so surprising is that people who follow calorie-restriction diets in hopes of living longer are still eating a lot of food. They indulge in huge breakfasts and big dinners, but eat few or no snacks in between. The main difference in their diets compared with most people typically is in the nutritional quality of food they eat -- whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less animal protein and saturated fat. They avoid refined foods, sugary desserts, soft drinks and other sources of "empty" calories.

Researcher Luigi Fontana makes the key point about reducing calories in your diet: it's not about less food, it's about which food:

"It's not eating half a hamburger, half a bag of french fries and half a sugared beverage," notes Dr. Fontana.

Eat to Live explains all about low-calorie, nutrient-rich food like fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts is the key. Here are some of Dr. Fuhrman's findings from the book:

Reduced caloric intake is the only experimental technique to consistently extend maximum life span. This has been shown in all species tested, from insects and fish to rats and cats. There are so many hundreds of studies.

Scientists have long known that mice that eat fewer calories live longer. Recent research has demonstrated the same effect in primates (i.e., you). A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that restricting calories by 30 percent significantly increased life span in monkeys. The experimental diet, while still providing adequate nourishment, slowed monkeys' metabolism and reduced their body temperatures, changes similar to those in the long-lived thin mice. Decreased levels of triglycerides and increased HDL (the good) cholesterol were also observed.1 Studies over the years, on many different species of animals, have confirmed that those animals that we fed less lived longest. In fact, allowing an animal to eat as much food as it desires can reduce its life span buy as much as half.

In the wide field of longevity of research there is only one finding that has held up over the years: eating less prolongs life, as long as nutrient intake is adequate. We all must recognize that if we are to reach the limit of human life span, we must not overeat high-calorie food. Eating empty-calorie food makes it impossible to achieve optimal health and maximize our genetic potential.

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