Dairy and Weight Loss

I’ve never been a milk drinker. To this day, the expression “cow juice” still haunts my mind. Now, I know it sounds silly, but, the concept of bovine nectar isn’t that farfetched. Here’s what I mean. Check out this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:
Milk, which is designed by nature for the rapidly growing cow, has about half its calories supplied from fat. The fatty component is concentrated more to make cheese and butter. Milk and cheese are the foods Americans encourage their children to eat, believing them to be healthy foods. Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects on our children is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases. If we expect our children to resist many common illnesses, they simply must consume less milk, cheese, and butter. Dairy foods should be consumed in limited quantity or not at all.
Okay, granted there are some “big” people out there, but I doubt any of them match the physiology of a baby cow. So why do they drink milk? Or consume dairy? Who knows? Maybe they’re eager to bring about various diseases. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Eat to Live:
Dairy is best kept to a minimum. There are many good reasons not to consume dairy. For example, there is a strong association between diary lactose and ischemic heart disease.1 There is also a clear association between high-growth-promoting foods such as dairy products and cancer. There is a clear association between milk consumption and testicular cancer.2 Dairy fat is also loaded various toxins and is the primary source of our nation’s high exposure to dioxin.3 Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical compound that even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits is a prominent cause of many types of cancer in those consuming dairy fat, such as butter and cheese.4 Cheese is also a power inducer of acid load, which increases calcium loss further.5 Considering that cheese and butter are the foods with the highest saturated-fat content and the major source of our dioxin exposure, cheese is a particularly foolish choice for obtaining calcium.
Now, given all these health risks, why would anyone even entertain the notion that dairy can help you lose weight? Especially since the dairy-weight loss claim was recently pummeled by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The New York Times covered it:
The assertion that there is a link between weight loss and dairy consumption has long been contested by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine [PCRM], an advocacy and research group that promotes a diet free of animal products.

The group petitioned the F.T.C. in 2005 to argue that the advertisements were misleading. In a May 3 letter to the group, Lydia Parnes, director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said Agriculture Department representatives and milk producers and processors had agreed to change the advertisements and related marketing materials “until further research provides stronger, more conclusive evidence of an association between dairy consumption and weight loss.”

As of Thursday, the National Dairy Council still had a section of its Web site devoted to the weight-loss claim. But the site, along with some of the advertisements, will be changed, said Greg Miller, who is executive vice president of the council and has a doctorate in nutrition.
But, I guess sometimes word doesn’t travel fast enough, because Michael Hecht of The Philadelphia Inquirer still thinks dairy can help you drop those unwanted pounds. Take a look:
There are a few theories as to how calcium and dairy products might be "weight friendly." One theory is that calcium and Vitamin D help regulate fat metabolism by stimulating fatty acid caloric burn and suppressing the body's production of fat.

Calcium in supplement form or dairy might also help to decrease fat absorption in the digestive tract by forming calcium-fatty-acid complexes called "soaps" that accelerate the loss of fat in the stool. Another theory is that extra calcium prevents fat storage by sending a signal that the body no longer needs to store fat.

It appears that low-fat dairy products like yogurt, cottage cheese and low-fat milk do help facilitate weight loss as long as total caloric intake is observed.
Not to beat up on Mr. Hecht, but come on! Keep up with the times—no pun intended.
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Metabolic Syndrome: Low-Carb No Fixer

Dr. Fuhrman will tell low-carb diets are dangerous and ill-advised. And yet, scientists and researchers actually waste their time extolling the virtues—or more appropriately, the falsifications—of low-carb-high-protein diets. Take this study for example. HealthDay News reports low-carb diets combat metabolic syndrome:

The study participants didn't follow the diets strictly, study leader Matthew R. Hayes, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania found. "Phase one intake was 25 percent [carbohydrates], on average," he said, rather than the 10 percent recommended. "Phase two carb intake was 35 percent," he said, although 27 percent was recommended. But it was a reduction from the participants' pre-study diet, which included 47 percent of calories from carbohydrates, he said.

To find out why the weight declined, Hayes' team did hormone assays, measuring fasting and post-meal blood levels of hormones associated with appetite and food intake, such as insulin, leptin and cholecystokinin (CCK).

"We found some changes in hormone levels," he said. "We saw a decrease in insulin, a decrease in leptin levels by the end of phase one. It was fast."

"By the end of phase 2, the insulin levels had crept up toward baseline; the leptin levels also rose, but it did not come back to the levels at baseline," Hayes said.

"These alternations in hormone levels acting together help reduce the amount of food consumed," he said. "There's a synergy. Based on the literature already out there, we are speculating that this synergy of hormones may be the mechanism explaining why people are satisfied with less food and [the low-carb diet] results in weight loss."

Pardon me for a second—shenanigans, shenanigans! That’s right. I’m calling shenanigans on this study. Why? Because it’s bound to trick people into believing that low-carb is a safe way of restoring healthy metabolic function. Confused? I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain. I asked him about this junk science and here’s what he had to say:

Smoking cigarettes has beneficial effects on body weight. It can improve diabetes control and even has beneficial effects on ulcerative colitis. However, smoking cigarettes harms the body in other ways, so those benefits aren’t worth much. Pursuing studies on high protein, carbohydrate restricted diets, which have already been shown to increase all-cause long term mortality is ignorant and immoral. A high nutrient, vegetable-based diet is a more effective and has long-term health advantages, instead of long-term dangers. This shows the ignorance in the medical and research community that treat diets like drugs. When you have no comprehensive understanding of nutritional science, your implementation and interpretation of scientific studies is almost irrelevant and results in no useful information.

In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2007 a 10-year dietary assessment of 22,944 subjects was published. It was entitled, Low-Carbohydrate-High-Protein and long-term survival in a general population cohort. The conclusion reads, "Prolonged consumption of diets low in carbohydrate and high in protein is associated with and increase in total mortality." The bottom line is you do not have to smoke cigarettes or eat a dangerous diet to control obesity, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome. My Eat to Live diet-style offers a safe, highly effective option with more dramatic results and protection against cancer, heart disease and all cause mortality.

Yeah, I guess you could drive nails with your head, but using a hammer is a safer choice. In my humble opinion, low-carb only exists because it caters to people’s emotional attachments to food. And we all know there’s lots of money in people’s weaknesses. That should explain why many low-carb peddlers are multi-million dollar corporations.

For more dismantling of low-carb diets, don’t forget about our friends over at AtkinsExposed.org.

Belly Fat and Fitness

If you go to the gym, you’re bound to have seen them. Those guys with the pumped up arms and tight-fitting shirts; these guys actually think they’re in shape. Well, they would be, if it weren’t for the big bellies. Don’t get it? This Reuters report should lift the fog. Ann Harding explains fitness means less belly fat at any weight. Read on:
The higher a man's cardiorespiratory fitness, the less fat he has in his abdominal cavity, Dr. Jean-Pierre Despres of Hopital Laval Research Centre in Quebec and colleagues found. The relationship held true regardless of body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height typically used to gauge overweight and obesity.

"This is why it's so, so important for the doctor to measure waist circumference," said Despres, who told Reuters Health he is on a "crusade" to get family doctors to check their patients' waist size and triglyceride levels.

High waist circumference combined with high triglyceride levels signal a substantially increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, he explained.

There is mounting evidence that fit people are at reduced risk of heart disease, even though they may be overweight or even obese based on their BMI, Despres and his team note in the Archives of Internal Medicine. At the same time, the researcher added, people of normal weight with bulging bellies can be "time bombs" for heart disease.

He and his colleagues hypothesized that fit individuals, regardless of BMI, would have less belly fat. To investigate, they looked at 169 healthy men, comparing their cardiorespiratory fitness with their amount of belly fat as measured by computed tomography (CT) scanning.
Dr. Fuhrman runs into the belly fat issue all the time. Check out this excerpt from Eat to Live:
Most people lose weight and then stop losing when they have reached their ideal weight. You are not the judge of your ideal weight; your body is. As almost everyone is overweight, many people think they are too thin when they have reached their best weight. I have many patients who, after following my plan to reverse diabetes or heart disease, report, "Everyone tells me I look too thin now." I then measure their periumbilical fat and check their percentage of body fat, and usually show them they are still not thin enough.

Symptoms of a Bad Diet

Nope. This post isn’t about the signs of a poor diet, rather, Diet-Blog has listed the 7 Signs of a Dubious Diet; diet as in fad diets. Here’re few good ones:
2. Advocates centering the diet on one particular food
Eg. grapefruit, peanut butter, coconut diets. Whether or not you eat these foods has no bearing on your weight and health.

3. Doesn’t insist on exercise
Surprising how many of them don’t – this is the cornerstone of continued fat loss and maintenance of weight, period. Beware of even those that undermine the importance of exercise.

4. Offers a simplistic explanation to the complex problem of obesity
Again, many “gurus” try and convince us that we are fat for a singular reason – this gives them an “angle” at which to sell us with. Whether it is carbs, an absence or abundance of a certain hormone, toxins – obesity is multifaceted.
I know I’m biased, but I mentally ran Eat to Live through these points and—it came out smelling like roses! Go on, try for yourself.

Does Counting Calories Matter?

I’m no diet guru, but the concept of counting calories seems totally off the mark. Especially when the dietary equation sums up like this: fried chicken + milk shake = calorie allotment for the day. Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t think too highly of calorie counting either. From The Problem with Weight Watchers and other Calorie Counting Diets:
With calorie-counting and point-counting and having to weigh, measure, and calculate amounts eaten, you are following a diet. Who wants to diet and measure portions forever? I enjoy eating. I eat the way I advise all my patients to do, yet I am not overweight. Why? I enjoy eating lots of great tasting stuff and not having to worry about my weight or my health. Intellectually, I know that I am doing the right thing to prevent heart disease and other medical problems from developing in my future. Dieting and measuring out thimble-sized portions of food for the rest of one's life is not something that fits in naturally and permanently into anyone's lifestyle. Besides, anything you do temporarily gives only temporary benefit.
One of Dr. Fuhrman’s most major points is the concept of nutrient density. In short, nutrition is not just about eating a certain amount of calories per day. Superior nutrition is achieved by eating lots of nutrient-dense low-calorie foods; like leafy green cruciferous vegetables. He talks about it in Eat to Live:
As long as you are eating so many low-nutrient foods, it is impossible to lose weight healthfully. In fact, this vicious combination of sedentary lifestyle and eating typical "American" food should make normal people overweight. It is perfectly normal to become a "food-addict," eating more calories when the body requires, when your intake of micronutrients is so low. This low nutrient intake leads to cellular toxicity creating an internal environment when cravings, and ill-feeling ensue if the body is not continually overfed. It is similar to the way a heroin or nicotine addict, who needs their regular fix, or withdrawal will begin and they will feel too uncomfortable. The standard (low phytonutient) diet leads to discomfort (headaches, weakness, abdominal spasm and fluttering, mental confusion and more) the minute your stomach empties for a few hours.
Now keep this in mind when you read this article in The New York Times. Apparently consumers are calling for calorie content labels on fast food; including McDonald’s, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and others. Lots of people want the labels, but some are skeptical—so am I. Roni Caryn Rabin reports:
“Do you think people will stop eating McDonald’s French fries and Big Macs?” asked Rick Sampson of the New York State Restaurant Association, which is suing New York City over its law. “It doesn’t keep me from eating a candy bar even though the calories are listed on it right in front of me.” (A Big Mac has 540 calories; a medium order of fries, 380.)

But public opinion polls suggest that consumers are overwhelmingly in favor of menu labeling. And a 2005 survey of 5,297 adults by the food services company Aramark found that 83 percent of them wanted nutritional information in restaurants.

“Often, people are trying to do the right thing and make the healthier choice, but they’re just guessing at what the best choice is — it’s not always obvious,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the advocacy group that is leading the movement for menu labeling. “Because there’s no nutritional information, they’re not getting what they think they’re getting.”

The chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s is one of those items that might appear to be a healthier choice, but brace yourself: it contains 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat, while the sirloin has 540 calories and 42 grams of fat (not counting side dishes).
What do you think? Personally, I think people are going to eat junk food regardless of labels. Most snack foods and candy are labeled and people still eat them. I agree with Dr. Fuhrman on this one, the bigger issue here is most people’s inability to feel true hunger; which according to Dr. Fuhrman starts very early in life. Back to Eat to Live:
Losing your ability to sense true hunger sets the foundation for obesity. By feeding kids so much calorie-rich food so frequently we have trained our children to disconnect eating from hunger. After enough time goes by continually consuming more calories than they need, they will feel discomfort when they do not have food constantly in their stomach. They must keep their digestive tract going all the time, because they become an overweight adult, they are true food addicts.
Over all, labels just seem like another standard American band aid approach to fixing the standard American diet woes—sigh. But again, I’m just a lowly blogger. What do you think?

Weight-Loss Strategies: Relaxation Techniques and In-Patient Facilities

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Positive Visualization and Other Relaxation Techniques: Progressive muscle relaxation and meditation are designed to reduce tension and provide a distraction for stressful events.1 For many, stress is a predictor of relapse and unhealthful eating. We need both exercise and sufficient rest and sleep to best deal with the stress in our lives. If you are not sleeping well, you can become overwhelmed more easily by stressful situations.

In-Patient Facilities or Health Retreats: If you do not succeed, or are not able to do so on your own, you are not a failure. Some individuals require a structured environment to get them started on the road to success. For others it is imperative for their health that they succeed at taking weight off relatively quickly. If you are committed to success, there is no reason why you should be satisfied with anything less than spectacular results in your health, wellness, and physique. Some individuals may require an initial period of supervision that offers a more disciplined and structured program whereby all the food is prepared.

These guests are soon reeducated to proper eating and learn to adjust to the changes that must be made. They can taste many different ways to prepare healthy food and learn healthy food preparation. There are live-in health spa facilities that adhere to these principles and cater to those who need guaranteed weight loss.
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You're Fat, Blame Others

Okay, imagine you’re overweight. Is it your fault or the food companies’ fault? Personally, I’d blame myself. Diet-Blog asks the same question; Personal Responsibility or Blame Food Companies? Take a look:
We are the ones who wear the robes and carry the gavel when it comes to what enters our mouths. Nobody is pointing a gun to our heads and demanding we down ½ pound burgers, a small bucket of fries and a pop big enough to dock a jet ski in…

…No individual should be able to sue a restaurant/food company because they got fat eating their food. It seems anything not right with us nowadays is somebody else’s fault.
Maybe it all boils down to this: Knowledge Motivates Change.

Weight-Loss Strategies: Self-monitoring & Structured Coaching

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Accept that this diet is a lifetime commitment. The individual most likely to succeed is one who has changed both his habits and mind-set. Food diaries, weekly weigh-ins, physical activity logs, and goal setting are all effective ways to stay on track. The primary purpose of self-monitoring is to become aware of behaviors and factors that either positively or negatively influence your food and activity choices. Research has consistently demonstrated that self-monitoring is a helpful tool that improves outcome.1

I suggest you make a list of goals that losing weight will help you accomplish and post it in a visible place where you will see it in your home. Add to it from time to time and check off those accomplishments as you achieve them. Make the goals very specific to you, such as the following:
  • I will be confident about my ability to resist disease.
  • I will succeed at losing pounds and regaining excellent health.
  • I will be able to fit into fashionable clothes, including my favorite blue dress.
  • My cholesterol will improve at least 50 points.
  • I will look good in a bathing suit at the pool this summer.
  • I will have more energy and be able to enjoy bike trips with my children.
  • My husband/wife/other will find me more attractive.
  • My job will be less tiring and I will perform better and make more money.
  • I will save money on health care and will be able to save for my retirement.
  • I will have a better social life and be in a position to attract John [or Jane].
  • My knees and back will stop hurting.
  • I will gain the respect of my peers.
  • My allergies, constipation, indigestion, headaches, and acne will all resolve.
  • My fears about a health crisis or death will subside.
Structured Coaching: Some individuals do better when another person tracks their results and provides encouragement. Some people maximize success with a variety of aids, including regular visits to a physician, dietitian, or psychologist. When patients see me each month, we review what has been achieved and what will be necessary to achieve the goal for the following month. Improvements in blood pressure, weight, lipid levels, liver function, and diabetic parameters are all helpful to keep people focused on achieving their goals. If you are on medication, it will be necessary to visit your physician regularly to adjust the dose and potentially discontinue those medications that you will no longer need as you lose weight. You can also ask your physician to read this book and work with you, supporting you as you earn your way back to total wellness.
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NY Times on the Diet Yo-Yo

News flash—MOST DIETS FAIL! And—YOU EVENTUALLY PUT THE WEIGHT BACK ON! The New York Times reports that even people who receive formal counseling for weight-loss, still get fat again. Nicholas Bakalar has more:
While it is known that such programs work only temporarily, the effect has been hard to quantify. The researchers used statistical techniques to combine data from 46 randomized controlled trials of counseling programs involving 6,386 overweight people who participated in programs and 5,467 who received the usual care. The study was published July 3 in The Annals of Internal Medicine.

Counseling-based weight-loss programs — those led by dietitians, nurses or doctors — produced an average weight loss of 6 percent of initial body weight, or about 11 pounds, at the end of one year. By the end of three years, participants had regained about half of that weight, and at the end of five years they had typically regained all of it.


Barron H. Lerner of The New York Times asks the question, amidst the tidal wave of pop-diets, has willpower died? Look:
A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association in May suggested another way in which genetics might affect changes in weight. Researchers from Children’s Hospital in Boston reported that differences in how young adults secrete the hormone insulin determine how well they respond to various dietary interventions.

So maybe it is time for health professionals to stop reflexively assuming that personal sacrifice will lead to weight loss. But this will not be easy.

For one thing, there certainly are success stories of people who have dropped dozens of pounds by drastically altering their lifestyles. Moreover, watching one’s diet can have beneficial health effects beyond losing weight.

And I just cannot conceive of a session with an overweight patient that does not involve a discussion of being careful at holiday meals, controlling portion size, avoiding bedtime snacks and trying to exercise three times a week. Somehow it still seems to me that part of a doctor’s job is to push patients to try harder. Just call me old-fashioned.

Weight-Loss Strategies: Social Support & Stimulus Control

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Social support: Include family and friends in your plan. Ask others to join you—not with the purpose of recruiting them to eating healthy, but so they will support and understand why you are changing your diet. If they are truly your friends, they will support you in your desire to improve your health and will try to have the right food choices available when you are around. Maybe they will even join you on your quest. It is extremely helpful to find at least one friend to join you or support you on your road back to superior health.

Stimulus control: Implement strategies to prevent temptation and exposure to sedentary activities or social eating. The most important stimulus-control technique is structuring your environment. This means removing temptation from your home and stocking your boards and refrigerators with the proper foods. Eat only at the kitchen table, not while watching television. When you finish dinner, clean up and leave the kitchen area, then brush your teeth, so you are not tempted to return and snack again. Lay out your exercise clothes for the morning so you are reminded to begin your day with your exercise program.

When going out to social situations, eat first or bring your own food if you cannot arrange in advance to have food that meets your needs. Volunteer to bring food for the other guests, too; then you have something you can eat with distress. Try not to make food the center of your life. Keep active with interests that keep you from thinking about eating.

Bean and Mushroom Diet Tips

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Eat beans or legumes everyday. Your goal should be to eat an entire cup (or more) of beans daily. Beans are a powerhouse of superior nutrition. They reduce cholesterol and blood sugar. They have a high nutrient-per-calorie profile and help prevent food cravings. They are digested slowly, which has a stabilizing effect on your blood sugar and a resultant high satiety index. Eggplant and beans, mushrooms and beans, greens and beans are all high-nutrient, high-fiber, low-calorie main dishes. Throw a cup of beans on your salad for lunch. Eat bean soup. Scientific studies show a linear relationship between soup consumption and successful weight-loss.1 As weight-loss strategy, eating soup helps by slowing your rate of intake and reducing your appetite by filling your stomach.

Eat lots of mushrooms all the time.
Mushrooms make a great chewy replacement for meat. Exploring their varieties is a great way to add interesting flavors and texture to your diet. Store them in paper bags, not plastic, as too much moisture speeds spoilage. Try adding them to beans, seasoned with herbs and lemon juice. Even though they are fungus, and not a real vegetable, mushrooms contain a variety of powerful phytochemicals and have been linked to decreased risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer.
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Support Helps Weight-Loss

Nothing too shocking here, but, a new study has determined that diet counseling helps dieters lose more weight. Madeline Vann of HealthDay News reports:
The team at the Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, analyzed 46 studies focused on weight loss. They compared data from almost 6,400 people whose programs included dietary counseling and almost 5,500 people who were not in these types of programs.

Programs with frequent meetings and calorie restrictions resulted in more successful weight loss over time, according to the study, which is published in he Annals of Internal Medicine.

Three years later, most people maintained half the overall weight loss. However, by the end of five years, all participants had regained the weight.

"We did not know how much weight people lost on average through weight loss programs or how long it took to gain it back. This study shows that lifestyle change needs to be for the long-term," study author Dr. Michael L. Dansinger, a physician at Tufts-New England Medical Centers Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, said in a prepared statement.