Cholesterol-lowering drugs may raise diabetes risk

Statins are a class of drugs used to treat elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Recently, researchers carried out a meta-analysis of 13 statin vs. placebo trials. Collectively, these researchers included over 90,000 subjects in their analysis, and came to the conclusion that taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes by 9% over the following four years.1

This is in fact the second meta-analysis performed in the past few months to come to this conclusion – an analysis published in October 2009 determined that statins increased diabetes risk by 13%. 2

Nine percent (or even 13%) may seem like a small risk, but let’s think about how many people take statin drugs. Today, cholesterol-lowering medications are the 2nd most prescribed drug class in the U.S. (behind only pain relievers).3 Between 1988 and 2006 the use of statin drugs in U.S. adults over 45 increased 10-fold.4 

Currently, over 30 million Americans take statin drugs, and this number may increase further. Statins may soon be recommended to older Americans who have normal LDL levels but elevated C-reactive protein.5 

Each one of these millions of people will have a 9% increased risk of diabetes – when they could have used a high nutrient diet to lower their LDL and reduce their cardiovascular risk. A high nutrient diet rich in unrefined plant foods can reduce cholesterol to the same extent as statin drugs.6 Since reducing cholesterol with diet and exercise addresses the cause of the high cholesterol (the typical American diet), there will be no risk involved – in fact, it will also lead to weight loss, which will then reduce diabetes risk.

Statins are not benign substances – they are powerful drugs with side effects that include muscle pain and liver damage. Which would you choose to lower your LDL – statin drugs plus increased diabetes risk and potential liver and muscle damage, or dietary changes that reduce blood pressure, reverse and prevent diabetes and protect against dementia? My view is that drugs also have the psychological effects to inhibit the necessity of lifestyle and dietary changes that are the root cause of almost all our nation’s medical problems. Any way you look at it drugs kill millions of people and drug-centered health care is the problem, not the solution to our heath crisis and tremendous medical suffering.

 

References:

1. Sattar N et al. Statins and risk of incident diabetes: a collaborative meta-analysis of randomised statin trials. Lancet. 2010 Feb 16. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Rajpathak SN et al. Statin therapy and risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2009 Oct;32(10):1924-9.

3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/drugs.htm

4. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/10newreleases/hus09.htm

5. Spatz ES et al.  From here to JUPITER: identifying new patients for statin therapy using data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2009 Jan;2(1):41-8. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

6. Jenkins DJ et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism. 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.

 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Terry

For years, Terry, a former high school and college athlete, could “eat anything” and work it off with lots of exercise through sports.  However, in his late twenties, the weight began to pile on as his social eating and drinking increased, and his exercise decreased.  The once fit athlete ballooned into an obese and unhealthy, middle-aged guy who felt miserable. Thankfully, a mutual friend and vegan proponent, Heather Mills, posed a challenge to Terry to get his health back and introduced him to Dr. Fuhrman. The rest is history. He’s now more than half way through the challenge, and it has changed more than just his medical stats.  Welcome to Disease Proof, Terry.

                      collegiate and middle aged male             

Tell us about yourself and how you decided to take the plunge to get your health back?

For more than a decade I’ve been overweight and unhappy with how I’ve looked and felt. I’ve wanted to lose 75 lbs to get down to what I weighed when I played collegiate rugby. I grew up playing sports and ate lots of high fat food, but never had a potbelly until I was twenty-five; and even then, when rugby season would start, I could always run it off. However, by the time I was thirty I was a heavy drinker and hardly exercised anymore. My career as an advertising executive in Manhattan requires dining out with clients late into the night as a significant part of my job. There seemed to be no end to my disease promoting lifestyle. Two years ago, when I turned forty, I thought I was a hopeless case. I didn’t think I’d ever be fit, active or happy again like I was in my early twenties.

Heather posed a challenge for me to go vegan for six months to see what effect it would have on my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. She wanted me to do it “right” so she introduced me to Dr. Fuhrman, who took the challenge a step further. He wanted me to focus on eating high nutrient vegetation for optimal health, and become a nutritarian for life.     

At first I thought Heather’s idea was crazy, because I loved meat and cheese; and it was even suggested that I give up alcohol! She offered to provide the food for six months and arrange monthly check-ups with Dr. Fuhrman if I would write a blog about the experience. After thinking about the challenge for many weeks, I decided to go for it. By this time, I had tipped the scales at 302 lbs [6’4”].  
   
I started the six month quest with 100% gusto on November 1, 2009; just as I was entering my favorite eating and drinking season of the year. A couple of days prior I had my first consultation with Dr. Fuhrman and he laid it on the line just like a coach would, and Eat to Live became the playbook.


How did you feel before committing to Eat to Live? 

I was tired all the time, and it was a struggle to perform even the simplest of tasks such as bending over to tie my shoes or climb a flight of stairs. However, even though I was obese, I didn’t look more than 50 lbs overweight and I lived a “normal” life. I could still fit in airplane seats and was never in want of a date; therefore, I ignored my extremely unhealthy body. I thought I ate relatively healthy and didn’t consider myself to be a junk food addict. For those rare times that I did look in the mirror and become shocked at my size, I would order a giant steak, creamed spinach, bottle of wine, and a few Scotches to make me happy again. 

I naively assumed that if I just cut back on food intake and exercised more that I could achieve my weight loss goal; however, Dr. Fuhrman quickly set me straight. I was surprised to learn that my steaks with creamed spinach and 12” subs were junk food; causing my cholesterol to be dangerously over 300! When Dr. Fuhrman stated, "We got you just in time," I knew it was not a hyperbole. My life was truly at risk

              

What's happened to your body so far?

By the eighth day of following Eat to Live, I had lost 12 lbs and within six weeks my cholesterol dropped an incredible 100 points! I’ve lost 41 lbs in the last 3½ months, and feel great and closer to “normal” again. My body is now conditioned to enjoy healthy food. I love this new way of eating! 

                 before and after obese male

 Are others noticing changes about you? 

Yes, someone recently commented, “I didn’t know you had a chin!” My girlfriend said that my skin looks healthier and more alive, and friends from years ago now see the same person they first met. However, the biggest change that others notice is my attitude. I was never without a drink and luscious spread of food, and now I’m surprising everyone. Many are encouraged and motivated because I’m the last person in the world they’d ever expect to see change eating and drinking habits. Now, the common response is, “If Terry can do it, I certainly can!”


Do you have any success tip(s) that you’d like to share with others in their journey to health?

  • Yes, be selfish.  In my case, I love to write, and the prospect of documenting this journey through a blog seemed irresistible. I told everyone I met that I was going on this radical quest to lose 75 lbs., and that I would be writing about it daily. [It’s easy to set up a blog. If you tell everyone about it, and commit to writing about your journey, you are under pressure to stick with it!]
  • Also I looked at the weight loss challenge as a sporting event. I’m competitive. I love to win. My ego was at stake because if I lost, I would not only be losing to myself, I would be losing to my doubters, and that got my competitive juices flowing!

 

Any final thoughts to share? 

  • Just because you feel "fine" doesn’t mean your cholesterol is not life threatening.
  • Just because you can still buy clothes “off the rack", or fit in an airplane seat, doesn’t mean you’re not dangerously obese.
  • Just because people love you, doesn’t mean you should ignore poor health and not do something about it.

     

Almost daily I hear the words of Dr. Fuhrman echo in my head, "We got you just in time." 

 

Terry has 2 ½ months left of his six month quest to get his health back. I’ll check in with him on the victor’s platform in a few months! In the meantime, check out his blog.  [By the way, since eating out with clients is a big part of his career, he uses his blog to encourage others, like himself, who are committed to eating for health while living in a big city full of challenging temptations.]

Congratulations Terry ~ we are cheering for you! 

 

Omega-3 fatty acids slow cellular aging

DNAIn coronary heart disease (CHD) patients, higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in the blood are associated with survival.1,2 Since patients with higher circulating omega-3s seemed to live longer, scientists wondered whether these patients were actually aging more slowly. 

They were able to indirectly measure rate of aging by measuring the telomere shortening rate in the patients’ white blood cells. Telomeres are regions of DNA at the ends of linear chromosomes – since telomeres are shortened during each cell division as DNA is replicated, telomere shortening is an indicator of aging at the DNA level. Faster telomere shortening means faster aging.

Blood levels of EPA and DHA and white blood cell telomere length were measured in CHD patients at baseline and again after 5 years.  The patients who had the lowest omega-3 levels had the fastest rates of telomere shortening, and those with the highest omega-3 levels had the slowest rates of telomere shortening. 

Omega-3s may in fact slow aging at the DNA level.

Omega-3 fatty acids, have several health benefits , and more benefits continue to be uncovered. In addition to slowing the aging process, in the past year alone the omega-3 fatty acid DHA has been suggested to promote cognitive development, prevent atherosclerotic plaque development, curb inflammation, and protect against cancer. 

Read more about the newly found health benefits of DHA, and why it may be both safer and more environmentally sound to use an algae-based DHA supplement, like my DHA Purity, instead of fish oil. I also still strongly recommend that certain seeds and nuts rich in the omega-3 ALA, such as flax, chia, hemp, or walnuts are important to be included in the diet as well for other documented health benefits. 

 

References:

1. Chattipakorn N et al. Cardiac mortality is associated with low levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the heart of cadavers with a history of coronary heart disease. Nutr Res. 2009 Oct;29(10):696-704.

2. Farzaneh-Far R et al. Association of marine omega-3 fatty acid levels with telomeric aging in patients with coronary heart disease. JAMA. 2010 Jan 20;303(3):250-7. 

It's Time for a Revolution!

                                                          

Goerge Washington and men crossing river

Are you sick and tired of a medical culture that's influenced by drug reps trained in communication skills and research funded by pharmaceutical companies instead of scientific nutritional research?

Are you fed up with a health care system, including dietitians and food service personnel, who see absolutely nothing wrong with serving pizza, fried chicken, beef 'n noodles, dinner rolls, butter and jelly, cake, ice cream, and pudding to severely ill patients?

Are you disappointed that our educational system values and prioritizes college and career preparation over instruction in optimal health and longevity? How fulfilling and productive is a career intermingled with food addiction and hangovers? What enjoyment and satisfaction is there in a beautiful home and nice car mixed with alcoholism, eating disorders, heart disease, depression, chemo treatments, pain meds, diabetes, and broken relationships?

Are you saddened by a social culture, including religious, academic and athletic; that models, by example, and promotes gluttonous pleasures and indulgences? What will happen to a society in which eating for disease has run rampant? 

Are you disturbed by the fact that a quarter of a million dollars can be spent on a preventable heart surgery, and $110 for an unnecessary vial of insulin, while entire families go to bed hungry? Is it even ethical to squander such financial resources?  

The change of one is a transformation.

The change of many is a revolution.

Change begins with you and me. 

It’s time for a revolution!

 

“We are free to choose our actions. We are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.”   -Steven Covey

 

image credit: montville.net

Are You a Food Addict?

  • Do you enjoy eating a fresh mango or juicy slice of cantaloupe?
  • Do you get excited over the taste of seasoned bok choy with roasted garlic and shiitake mushrooms simmered in carrot juice?
  • Do you look forward to some steamed greens, zucchini, beets, and onions poured over a bowl of warm lentils, currants and sun dried tomatoes?
  • Do you enjoy sweet peppers, red onions, sliced plantain, and shredded carrots in your salads?  Doesn’t a dressing made from blueberries, cashews and a little blueberry vinegar poured over sound good?

cherry tomatoes

  • When cherry tomatoes have ripened on the vine, do you pop the delicious  morsels into your mouth like you used to pop in junk food?  And, feel good that you enjoy the health giving sustenance from nature? 

 

If you don’t genuinely enjoy eating nutrient rich foods, it’s a telltale sign that you have not broken free from toxic food addiction.

If eating for health is a burden, but you force yourself to do it anyway to lose weight or survive; or because you know it’s better than the alternative of premature death, then you are still held captive to the standard American diet.  You are a food addict.  Most likely, when no one is around, or when the food is right there in your vicinity, you make excuses to yourself and eat toxic foods at almost every opportunity.

Many people have trouble breaking free.  For them they need a prolonged period of abstinence to conquer their perverted cravings for destructive food.  Like any drug addiction, in order to be free from food addiction and its all-consuming cravings, you have to abstain from the toxic American diet for a full 8 – 12 weeks, no matter what. 

If you do not strictly follow nutritarian eating for at least that amount of time, your taste buds will never adapt, and consequently you’ll never get to the point that you prefer eating natural, healthy food.   

You have to put in the time of abstinence up front to get the results.  If you’re always jumping back and forth due to toxic cravings, you won’t build the strength and sensitivity in the taste buds that make natural foods so delicious.

In other words, just do it!

You can’t live with one leg in nutritarian eating and one leg in standard American (self-destructive) eating.  It just won’t work, and you’ll miss the wonderful privilege of living in freedom from food addiction and enjoying optimal health.  Yes, there’s a seemingly sacrificial price to pay up front because cravings can be strong and withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, but these disappear shortly and the results will pay you back a hundred fold for the rest of your life!  

A Valentine Love Story

 

For many, Valentine’s Day is filled with candlelit dinners, flowers and romance. Yet, unfortunately, for many others, it's just another day filled with disappointment due to a loved one’s confusing perils of addiction. 

Addiction is not solitary; it painfully affects everyone, especially those closest to the person caught in the web of its entanglements. 

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Peggy, the lovely wife of Ronnie Valentine, who I recently interviewed on Disease Proof. If you recall, Ronnie was not only caught up in food and alcohol addiction, but smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. I asked Peggy if she’d be willing to share her perspective of what it was like being married to someone drowning in addiction, (with Ronnie’s blessing), and she wholeheartedly agreed to it. Welcome to Disease Proof, Peggy.

  

 

 

                      picture of young couple

What was your life like being married to someone trapped in addiction?

When Ronnie and I married in 1985, he was disciplined, athletic, healthy, and balanced. His addiction to cigarettes, alcohol and food developed slowly over time, as did my coping mechanisms. I definitely progressed in a downward spiral, in my own way, right along with him. 

As a couple, our once normal, loving partnership turned to one of caregiver and sick, disabled person.  Having to pick up additional responsibilities to cover for Ronnie’s physical incapacities and emotional absence due to behaviors that were chosen by him, I continued in a repetitive cycle of anger, pity, hope, and forgiveness, which was detrimental to my own health and well being. 

 

How did Ronnie’s addictions affect your children and other relationships?

Addiction in our case, as I think for most people suffering from it, affected every relationship within our family, plus our social relationships, in a negative way. Our children experienced the absence of their father. His desire to be in their lives was limited as the addictions were the driving force in his life. I remember telling the kids about a year before Ronnie discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site that I felt strongly their father would not be around much longer. We were living with a person who was voluntarily and slowly killing himself. I knew that his will to live had long departed. Although we never talked about it, I knew that Ronnie was putting affairs in order so that I could carry on in his absence. And because his preference was to socialize with those who liked to participate in the same things, our social life also became out-of-balance as isolation took place of relationships.

 

married coupleHow did it affect your finances?

Ronnie was taking medications that were costing over $600/month in out-of-pocket expenses! Our finances were crippled, because more than $2500 every month was being thrown out the window to fund his addictions and medications. Today I’m proud to say that we spend absolutely nothing on prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, cigarettes, alcohol, eating out, junk food, or any other vice. 

 

How did you cope with the ongoing stress? 

I wish I could say that I was the pillar of strength and support, but that would be an inaccurate assessment. However, I do believe for those married that we ultimately want our marriages to succeed. The need to WANT to trust our partner is strong. I knew that this was the foundation to our relationship. If the trust was gone, we were through.

I experienced a naïve type of hope that wanted to find something good to hang on to, which became my coping mechanism. However, eventually over the years, my instinct and good sense confirmed to me that this problem wasn’t going to get any better or go away. As a last resort, I went to my God on Ronnie’s behalf and begged for mercy. I began to pray a lot.

Only God can change a heart. All the diets, disciplined efforts, exercise programs, treatment centers, hypnosis, or any other methods are destined to fail if the heart of the person has not decided to live. I think many people have to hit bottom in order to look up, and Ronnie was no exception. After his second trip to the hospital for treatment of serious heart disease in three years, we were both at rock bottom.

 

What was the turning point for you?

Upon returning home after having three stents put into his arteries [two years after quadruple bypass surgery], I watched Ronnie search for a new way to live. He discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site and began to communicate with him about his health. As Ronnie gained information, he began to change. Although that first year was hard, (Ronnie had been smoking four packs of cigarettes a day and stopped cold turkey), his decision to live never faltered. It was an instant decision on his part. Seeing his will to live again was a turning point for me as I could look forward to a future with the man that I loved the most in the world. My assumption of being a widow was no longer valid! God had come through in His mercy.

 

          before and after pics of male

What has it been like to see Ronnie change right before your eyes?

There has been a lot of attention, and rightfully so, spent on gaining knowledge about vitamins, minerals, what and when to eat, how foods affect the body, human anatomy, exercise, and managing stress; almost a hobby and passion for Ronnie. I am very proud of his dedication to learn this information and his willingness to share it with anyone ready to listen.

A new trust has been restored to our relationship. We are now on the same page for the first time in years.  Our children have been released of the constant burden of worry, not only for their father, but for me as well.

Sometimes I still forget that I don’t have to do everything by myself anymore. I now have a healthy and fit husband who can help bring in groceries, mow the lawn, and move heavy boxes and furniture with ease; all of which he couldn’t do when he was sick and incapacitated.  I no longer see our money flying out the door with nothing to show for it. Our life is so much better and easier, and an open book to family and friends with nothing to hide.

 

Is there anything that you would like to share with those who are committed to a loved one through the devastation of addiction?

Ronnie was hurting, but he was a dynamic and extraordinary individual waiting to jump out and live again.  I think it’s important not to put a lot of unnecessary blame on someone caught in addiction, and in the process, bypass our own shortcomings. 

If you are reading this and are a parent or grandparent, be watchful of your children and grandchildren. Their physical and emotional well-beings are impressionable, and their nutritional habits are being formed by you. Some of the answers to addiction may lie here, and I suspect that if taught early, good habits and health would carry throughout a lifetime.

 

                                          

Happy Valentines Day Ronnie and Peggy Valentine! May you have many wonderful years together!

 

 

Image credits: roses, theresampetoskey@Flickr; silhouette, emergingcity.com

 

 

 

 

Interview with Nutritarians: Rick and Lynne

Since Valentine Day is on Sunday, I want to interview a couple, Rick and Lynne, who recently celebrated 40 years of marriage and are committed nutritarians. They plan to enjoy many more wonderful, and now, healthy years together. Welcome to Disease Proof Rick and Lynne!

                                   newlyweds cutting wedding cake

How did you discover nutritarian eating?

For us it has been a long and gradual process to discover and eventually commit to nutritarian eating. About 15 years ago we gave up eating red meat and pork products, and then eventually gave up consuming chicken due to their growth hormones and antibiotics.   Then my sister Laurie and her husband, Darryl, led us the rest of the way to discover Dr. Fuhrman’s high nutrient eating-style. 

Since Darryl and Laurie visit us once or twice a year, they help with the grocery shopping and cooking. In the process they have shared healthier food preparation and recipes with us. Laurie and I have swapped recipes for years and now we have healthy ones to share with each other.

 

What motivated both of you to commit 100%?

We both attended a lecture by Dr. Fuhrman in Clearwater, Florida, and then attended his health “Getaway” this past summer. His lectures were so informative and full of science to back up his eating plan. Plus it was great to spend a whole week eating delicious, healthy food and then return home from a vacation having lost a few pounds rather than gaining! Of course, it was also wonderful to meet other nutritrians and eat meals and socialize with likeminded people for an entire week. 

 

How has eating for health changed your lives?

We didn’t have a lot of weight to lose to begin with; surprisingly, we’ve both lost 17 lbs, and now weigh less than the day we got married! Our cholesterol levels are in a healthy range now, and a recent blood pressure reading for Rick was 105/72 and mine was 113/72. We feel so much better eating this way. Even when we eat a substantial meal, because we choose the healthiest foods possible, we don’t have that heavy feeling of being stuffed and bloated afterwards. We are looking better in our clothes and have been able to wear some things that we haven’t worn in years. Now we’re donating our larger clothes because we know we’ll never need them again!

 

Has it been beneficial to be on this journey together?

Yes!  We offer each other the full support and daily encouragement to eat the healthiest foods possible.  We both want to live long and healthy lives and not die early of a preventable disease.  Rick and I love each other so much that we want as many years together as we can possibly get! My great grandparents were married for 71 years, and I hope we can meet or exceed that number!

                                             picture of a nutritarian couple

Congratulations Rick and Lynne on celebrating your 40th anniversary! Now that you are both in excellent health, may you continue to celebrate many more!  

 

CDC reports risk of urinary tract infection from chicken products

Raw chicken

There is growing concern about the safety of agricultural products, especially meat. Recalls are becoming more frequent - it’s early February, and according to the USDA, there have already been three meat recalls so far this year. Even more troubling is that approximately 70% of antibiotics produced in the U.S. are regularly given to farm animals for non-therapeutic reasons - not to treat existing infections – non-therapeutic use of anibiotics has been used for decades to promote weight gain in animals, which increases meat production and therefore profits.1  These practices are potentially fueling the emergence of dangerous drug-resistant strains of bacteria, which could make their way into our food supply.

Six to eight million cases of urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur each year in the U.S., 80% of which are caused by E. coli that is ingested in food, lives in the intestinal tract, and then travels from the intestinal tract to the urinary tract. Infections of the urinary tract are also the most common source of bacteria causing sepsis, or infection of the bloodstream. Drug-resistant bacterial UTIs are of course more difficult to treat.

Since intestinal E. coli is the most common source of UTIs, a group of Canadian researchers decided to test whether there was a link between contaminated food products and UTIs. These researchers had previously found that women who frequently ate chicken and pork were more likely to have drug-resistant UTIs.2

They collected urine samples from women diagnosed with urinary tract infections between 2005 and 2007. During this same time period they also collected samples of supermarket purchased chicken products, restaurant meals, and ready-to-eat foods.

Two isolated groups of E. coli were genetically indistinguishable between the chicken samples and human UTI samples. This means that these bacteria likely originated from the same source, and furthermore establishes that chicken products are a food-based source for bacteria that cause human UTIs.3

If you do not consume animal products, you can still reduce your risk of exposure by washing produce thoroughly – produce can become contaminated by animals or humans infected with E.coli.4

If you do eat animal products, you can take these steps to reduce the risk of ingesting harmful bacteria: cook meat and eggs thoroughly, be careful not to contaminate surfaces or other foods with raw meat, refrigerate leftovers promptly, and wash produce thoroughly. 

Purchasing meat from a source that does not practice non-therapeutic antibiotic use is a further step you can take to not promote the practices that drive the emergence of drug-resistant bacterial strains. Animals raised for meat and poultry products that carry the USDA organic label are not permitted to be given antibiotics.5

 

References:

1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=most-us-antibiotics-fed-t

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/overview.html

2. Manges AR, Smith SP, Lau BJ, Nuval CJ, Eisenberg JN, Dietrich PS, et al. Retail meat consumption and the acquisition of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli causing urinary tract infections: a case-control study. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2007;4:419–31. DOI:10.1089/fpd.2007.0026

3. Vincent C, Boerlin P, Daignault D, et al. Food reservoir for Escherichia coli causing urinary tract infections. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010;16:88-95.

http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/16/1/pdfs/88.pdf

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/mu-rml012010.php

4. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2007/ucm108873.htm

5. http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/ofp/ofp.shtml

Stephanie and Carol's Progress Updates

It’s time to check in with Stephanie as she continues the journey to get her health back. I’m also going to include an update on Carol, who committed to Dr. Fuhrman’s high nutrient eating-style this past July. Welcome back to Disease Proof ladies!

portraits of a woman

Stephanie hit a weight loss plateau, and is the first to admit that she was “testing her limits.” She learned a valuable lesson: one cannot mix nutrient dense foods and the standard American diet together and get results. She realized that old habits die hard, and that rationalizing poor food choices is unproductive to optimal health.  

Stephanie also realized that she LIKES feeling healthy and has been craving exercise for the first time in her life. She’s been feeling better about herself every month.

“My nursing classes started again in January, and for the first time as an adult, I’m able to fit into a [classroom] desk!  I've started wearing make-up because I’ve started caring about how I look again. I actually find pleasure in taking care of myself now.  This month I smiled at myself in the mirror ... SINCERELY ... I have never been able to look at myself without shame and disgust.”

   

                               images of a woman

Carol is thrilled to be down 88 lbs now since July. Her waist has decreased a total of eight inches so far, and she describes her size 20 pants as “roomy.” She can’t wait to get below 200 lbs next! 

Lately, she’s been noticing that her complexion is smoother from eating lots of high nutrient foods, and someone commented that she looks younger than her actual age. Her favorite smoothie is comprised of blueberries, strawberries, a banana, spinach and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  

Carol says she feels so GOOD, and is excited to be increasing in stamina each month. She’s even started using exercise equipment for workouts a couple times a week! 

 

Stephanie and Carol, we are cheering for both of you!

The Truth About Healthcare Reform

 An article by Christina Pirello, an advocate of natural foods nutrition and professor of culinary arts at Drexel University, on Huffington Post states the uncomfortable truth about healthcare reform that the mainstream media consistently fails to report:

“Healthcare reform is irrelevant until Americans improve their lifestyles.”

Money

The fact is, our healthcare costs are out of control because the diet and lifestyle that has become the societal norm in this country causes disease.  As Ms. Pirello mentioned in her article:

“We are willing to tolerate this revolutionized food because it's cheap. But it comes at a high price to our health. We spend less on food today than any other people at any other time in recorded history. And the less we spend on food, the more we spend on health care.”1

 Here are some numbers:

- Overweight and obesity rates are at an all time high – 73% of Americans are either overweight (38.8%) or obese(34.2%).2 In 1980, 15% of adults were obese – over the past 30 years,that number has more than doubled.3

- According to the CDC, U.S. obesity-related health costs totaled $117 billion in 2000, and if current trends continue, that figure is projected to reach $344 billion per year by 2018.3,4

- Coronary heart disease costs are estimated at $177 billion for 2010, costs for stroke at $74 billion, costs for hypertension at $77 billion. 5

- Health insurance premiums have gone up 131% in the last 10 years.6

- Over 50% of insured Americans take prescription drugs for a chronic condition – the majority of these drugs are for blood pressure or cholesterol.7

These costly diseases are caused by poor lifestyle choices, and they are also preventable by positive lifestyle choices.

The problem is not the fact that there are so many uninsured Americans – the problem is that there are so many unhealthy Americans. Do we need a better health care system? Of course. But not as desperately as we need better health. Better health through improved lifestyle choices is also fiscally responsible. Vegetables are cheaper than statin drugs. A gym membership is cheaper than bypass surgery.

Health care costs are the symptom, poor lifestyle choices are the cause. If we want to improve the situation, we need to address the cause. The only way to reduce these costs is to reduce the prevalence of these devastating (but preventable) diseases.

No matter how many confusing messages the American public gets about nutrition, there are some very simple truths. Fruits and vegetables are healthy, processed foods and fast food are not. If you follow a nutritarian diet, it will cost less to keep you healthy. 

Ms. Pirello suggests a healthcare system in which individuals are rewarded for having healthy habits – sounds like a great idea to me. She also mentions Whole Foods Market’s new Health Starts Here program, for which I provide nutritional guidance.

“They are about to implement a program that encourages their employees to get and stay healthy. Beginning with a simple blood test and survey, each employee who chooses to participate will receive a diet plan. Each benchmark they hit (lower cholesterol and blood pressure, healthier BMI, etc., will result in a greater discount on their groceries purchased at Whole Foods Market. Imagine a health care plan that does the same thing.”1

No matter what the outcome of healthcare reform in Washington D.C., if enough of us develop and practice healthy habits, it will be to the benefit of our healthcare system.

 

References:

1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-pirello/healthcare-reform-is-irre_b_440589.html

2. Ogden CL et al. Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3)

Flegal KM et al. Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3)

3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/overweight/overweight_adult.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/AAG/pdf/obesity.pdf

4. http://www.americashealthrankings.org/2009/obesity/ECO.aspx#2018

5. http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192667

6. http://money.blogs.time.com/2009/09/30/a-dozen-disturbing-health-care-statistics/

7. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/14/health/main4094632.shtml?source=related_story

Black Bean Brownies for Valentines

Valentine hearts

Wait! Before you skip over this recipe . . . it’s good! When I first read the title, I thought to myself, “No way!”   (Plus, read on ~ Dr. Ferreri made a delicious Chocolate Cherry Pie using it for the crust.)

Since Valentine’s Day is just eleven days away, and chocolate and valentines go hand-in-hand, I decided to give the recipe a try to see if it would be worth making as a special treat for my family. I didn’t mention that beans were in it, and they liked them. However, I highly recommend keeping the black beans a secret ingredient!

I have a son with type I diabetes that requires accurate insulin coverage, so I calculated approximately 30 grams of carbs per brownie if the recipe is cut into 12, even pieces. Because of the beans, they didn’t affect his blood sugars in a negative way. 

 

Black Bean Brownies

½ cup dark cocoa powder

2 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 (15 oz.) can of salt-free black beans (drain liquid)

1 large handful of sunflower seeds or 1 T. ground flaxseed

1 ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups pitted dates (chopped)

¾ cup whole wheat flour

1 cup walnuts

Put the first six ingredients in a food processor. Turn it on and then gradually add the 2 cups of chopped dates, a few at a time until blended. Add the flour and continue to mix until everything is well blended. Turn off the machine, remove the blade, and stir in the nuts. Spread into a 13” x 9” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

brownie batter

Note: I doubled the recipe, put the batter into the 13” x 9” stoneware pan, and increased the baking time to 55 minutes. It made 24, chewy brownies. I thought they were plenty sweet, but next time I’ll slightly reduce the applesauce, and add one or two ripe, mashed bananas to make them a tad bit sweeter for my family's tastebuds. 

 

Dr. Ferreri made and taste-tested the following recipe. She and her friends gave it a “thumbs up!”

 

Chocolate Cherry Pie

Crust = ½ recipe of the black bean brownies

Spray a pie plate with olive oil, and spread the brownie batter into the bottom and sides.  Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Filling:

2 - 16 oz bags of frozen cherries, thawed

1 cup dates

1 Tbsp arrowroot

Drain the cherries and reserve the juice.  Set aside ½ cup of cherries, and place the rest in a bowl.

Blend in Vitamix or blender: cherry juice, ½ cup cherries, dates, arrowroot

Stir the juice/date mixture in with the cherries, spoon into the crust.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

 

Enjoy! These recipes make delicious, health promoting treats. Please let us know how yours turn out!    

       

image credits: hearts, cabotblog.com; brownie batter, Emily Boller

Excess iron and copper contribute to chronic disease and aging

Both iron and copper serve vital functions, but as we age excess stores of these metals may build and become toxic. A report from the American Chemical Society1 suggests that iron and copper toxicity are unrecognized but significant threats to public health, in particular for adults over the age of 50.

pennyIron is crucial for oxygen transport and the proper function of several enzymes and proteins. Similarly, copper is also a component of enzymes that catalyze important reactions in several of the body’s cells and tissues. The human body evolved to store excess iron and copper to fuel these vital processes in case of extreme conditions like bleeding or famine, but their accumulation over time may be detrimental because both metals are involved in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).

It is now generally accepted that oxidative damage, a byproduct of oxygen-dependent energy production, contributes to chronic diseases and aging.

Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is one of the initial steps of atherosclerotic plaque development. Epidemiological associations between body stores of each of these metals and atherosclerosis have been found, and this is thought to be due to ROS production.2 

Oxidative damage and depletion of the brain’s natural antioxidant defenses are implicated in the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the brain uses more oxygen and produces more energy than any other organ, it is the most vulnerable organ to oxidative damage. The high iron content of the brain, even higher in those with excessive iron stores, makes the brain even more vulnerable to oxidative stress.3

In people at least 65 years of age who consumed diets high in saturated and trans fats, copper intake was associated with accelerated cognitive decline. Copper bound to cholesterol is also commonly found in the β-amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.4

Excess quantities of these metals primarily come from meat, followed by multivitamin/multimineral supplements. Copper in supplements and drinking water is even more toxic than copper derived from food sources.1   

The author of this new report has outlined steps that we can take to limit our exposure to copper and iron, including:

  • Avoiding or minimizing red meat consumption

  • Avoiding drinking water from copper pipes

  • Choosing a multivitamin that does not contain copper and iron. 

Dr. Fuhrman designed his Gentle Care Formula multivitamin/multimineral to be free of potentially toxic ingredients like copper and iron.

 

References:

1. American Chemical Society (2010, January 22). Consumers over age 50 should consider cutting copper and iron intake, report suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/01/100120113553.htm 

Brewer GJ. Risks of Copper and Iron Toxicity during Aging in Humans. Chem Res Toxicol. 2009 Dec 7. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Brewer GJ. Iron and Copper Toxicity in Diseases of Aging, Particularly Atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. Exp Biol Med 232 (2): 323. 2007

3. Kidd PM. Neurodegeneration from Mitochondrial Insufficiency: Nutrients, Stem Cells, Growth Factors, and Prospects for Brain Rebuilding Using Integrative Management. Alternative Medicine Review 2005;10(4):268-293

4. Morris MC et al. Dietary copper and high saturated and trans fat intakes associated with cognitive decline. Arch Neurol. 2006 Aug;63(8):1085-8.