I Could Never Do That!

The following post was originally published on Disease Proof about two years ago. I thought it’d be helpful to dig it out of the archives for some inspiration again this time of year. Even now, I still hear, “Oh, I could never do that!” in response to the way I eat, and I’m sure that many of you do too. It’s good to be reminded on a regular basis of the many medical problems that we nutritarians get to bypass, and the many wonderful pleasures that we get to enjoy as a result! Some of the comments at the end are funny, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking all rolled into one. May they encourage and uplift heavy hearts, and cheer everyone on in the pursuit of excellent health. Cheers to all!

 

vegetablesIn the Fall of 2008, after I had dropped 40 lbs in three months, my peers started commenting and asking questions about the noticeable changes. By the next Spring, when 100 pounds were off, complete strangers such as clerks in stores would comment and ask questions as well.

Everyone’s question was, “How did you lose weight?” 

Of which my reply would always be, “By following Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live;. . . . basically eating lots of high nutrient, plant-based foods.” 

“You mean no meat? No cheese? No pizza? No McDonald’s? . . . . Oh, I could never do that!” 

Now, over 2 ½ years later, the majority still say to me, “Oh I could never do that!” in response to anything remotely related to the idea of eating meals primarily composed of plant based nutrition. 

 

Well, the following is what I think in response to, “I could never do that”:

 

  • I could never blow the family budget on unnecessary test strips, insulin, medications, doctor and hospital bills, or bypass surgery.

  • I could never carry around expensive medical supplies and meds while traveling.

  • I could never ask a loved one to mow the lawn for me due to fatigue and ill health.

  • I could never turn a child away from playing a game due to a migraine headache.

  • I could never miss out on the joy of a wedding celebration due to obesity and depression.

  • I could never ask someone to drive me to kidney dialysis three times a week.

     

 

 

Dr. Fuhrman added:

 

  • I could never have heartburn and burping half the night.

  • I could never sit in the bathroom for 15 minutes trying to painfully squeeze out a hard log.

  • I could never watch a volleyball game at the beach instead of playing in it.

  • I could never have rubber bands put on painful hemorrhoids by a rectal specialist.

  • I could never worry about running to catch a bus, for fear of having a heart attack. 

  • I could never have such severe stomach cramps that emergency room personnel would assume it was a heart attack. 

  • I could never fall down and fracture a hip because my blood pressure medications dropped my blood pressure too low.

  • I could never be intubated in the ER with a tube put down my throat and hooked up to a breathing machine after suffering a heart attack.

  • I could never be in a nursing home unable to talk after a stroke or move the left side of my body. 

 

How about you? 

What could you never do?     

 

 

image credit: flickr by Claudio Matsuoka and FotoosVanRobin 

 

USDA: Don't go meatless, not even one day a week

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in a peculiar position.  They are tasked with two potentially contradictory missions: 1- promoting the sales of American agricultural commodities and 2- providing dietary recommendations to guide Americans toward healthy choices.  Clearly, this is a conflict of interest. For example, the USDA advises reducing saturated fat (“solid fats”), while simultaneously promoting sales and consumption of cheese, the primary source of saturated fat in the American diet.

USDA MyPlate

If the USDA aims to help Americans make healthier choices, they need to recommend eating less of something – and the meat, dairy, egg and sugar industries all put pressure on the USDA not to single out of any of their products as a “food to reduce.”

Science-based guidelines constructed by the USDA are inevitably corrupted by political and economic forces. As a result, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans has consistently included recommendations for excessive amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy products, and underemphasized the importance of vegetables, beans, fruits, and nuts. Consequently many Americans think that humans need dairy products to get adequate calcium, meat to get adequate protein, etc. Any advice that refers to reducing animal foods is purposely vague, referring to food components rather than specific foods: “Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids” and “Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol” rather than explicitly “Limit meat, eggs and cheese.”

The USDA’s inability to produce science-based recommendations was clearly illustrated in events that transpired earlier this week. An internal USDA newsletter that discussed ways that staff at USDA headquarters can reduce their environmental impact, circulated earlier in the week, offering a suggestion that employees consider taking part in the Meatless Monday initiative:

Meatless Monday“One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative http://www.meatlessmonday.com/. This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources.  It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides.  In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat. While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment. Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results.”

This newsletter provoked a harsh response from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA).  The President of NCBA called the Meatless Monday initiative “an animal rights extremist campaign to ultimately end meat consumption,” claimed that the newsletter “calls into question USDA’s commitment to U.S. farmers and ranchers,” and even went so far as to say, “When it comes to health, beef has an amazing story to tell. Beef is a naturally nutrient-rich food, helping you get more nutrition from the calories you take in.”

Of course, abstaining from meat one day a week is not nearly enough to bring about excellent health (and it is astounding that so many Americans consider going without meat for one day a hardship). However, healthful, plant-centered eating is gaining momentum: news reports about the disease-reversing power of plant foods are becoming more and more common. The lack of safety of factory-farmed animal products are coming to light with more and more food recalls and stories of dangerous contaminations with fecal bacteria. The public was outraged about “pink slime.” People are looking for ways to reduce the amount of animal products in their diets. The cattlemen are worried, and rightfully so.

The USDA quelled the NCBA’s outrage by responding with a statement saying that the newsletter was posted without proper clearance, and bluntly stating “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday.”

Several studies have drawn links between higher red meat or total meat consumption and premature death.1-5 The links between meat and chronic disease are numerous:

  • Cooking meats (not just red meats) at high temperatures produces dietary carcinogens.6  
  • Additional carcinogens are formed from meats during the digestion process.7-9 
  • Excess heme iron (found only in animal foods) is an oxidant that contributes to cardiovascular disease and dementia.10, 11
  • High milk consumption is associated with increased risk of prostate and ovarian cancers.12, 13
  • Animal protein raises blood IGF-1 levels, and elevated IGF-1 is linked to increased cancer risk.14, 15
  • The World Cancer Research Fund, in a 2011 update of their comprehensive report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer,, has declared that red and processed meats are a convincing cause of colon cancer.16

 

Yet, the USDA cannot make a simple suggestion to abstain from meat one-seventh of the time.

 

Although the USDA’s original position was related to environment not health, it is clear to see that the USDA is not prepared to make any recommendations that might upset the giants of animal agriculture.  Although USDA’s MyPlate was a small positive step, recommending that half of Americans’ plates consist of vegetables and fruits, this Meatless Monday situation shows that how heavily the USDA is influenced by the meat industry; they cannot possibly make recommendations that are science-based.

Bottom Line: don’t trust the USDA to tell you what to eat.  Let science guide your food choices; the foods consistently associated with reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and premature death are not meat and milk; they are vegetables, beans, fruits, seeds and nuts.

 

References:

1. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, et al. Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies. Arch Intern Med 2012.
2. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al. Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med 2009;169:562-571.
3. Major JM, Cross AJ, Doubeni CA, et al. Socioeconomic deprivation impact on meat intake and mortality: NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Cancer Causes Control 2011;22:1699-1707.
4. Key TJ, Fraser GE, Thorogood M, et al. Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:516S-524S.
5. Fraser GE. Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:532S-538S.
6. Zheng W, Lee S-A. Well-Done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer Risk. Nutr Cancer 2009;61:437-446.
7. WCRF/AICR Expert Report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.: World Cancer Research Fund; 2007.
8. Lunn JC, Kuhnle G, Mai V, et al. The effect of haem in red and processed meat on the endogenous formation of N-nitroso compounds in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Carcinogenesis 2007;28:685-690.
9. Kuhnle GG, Story GW, Reda T, et al. Diet-induced endogenous formation of nitroso compounds in the GI tract. Free Radic Biol Med 2007;43:1040-1047.
10. Brewer GJ. Iron and copper toxicity in diseases of aging, particularly atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Exp Biol Med 2007;232:323-335.
11. Brewer GJ. Risks of copper and iron toxicity during aging in humans. Chem Res Toxicol 2010;23:319-326.
12. Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A. Milk, milk products and lactose intake and ovarian cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Int J Cancer 2006;118:431-441.
13. Qin LQ, Xu JY, Wang PY, et al. Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer in Western countries: evidence from cohort studies. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2007;16:467-476.
14. Thissen JP, Ketelslegers JM, Underwood LE. Nutritional regulation of the insulin-like growth factors. Endocr Rev 1994;15:80-101.
15. Kaaks R. Nutrition, insulin, IGF-1 metabolism and cancer risk: a summary of epidemiological evidence. Novartis Found Symp 2004;262:247-260; discussion 260-268.
16. Continuous Update Project Interim Report Summary. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer. . World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research.; 2011.

 

 

Eat that hamburger and you are supporting global warming

 

There are a lot of reasons to stop eating meat.  Improving our health is a large one given the association between meat consumption and chronic, life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and various cancers.  Every time we choose to fill our plates with plant foods instead of animal products, we are doing our bodies a huge service both in the short and long term.  However, most people don’t realize how forgoing a steak, hamburger or piece of chicken is enormously protective against the warming of the planet and the destruction of the rain forests.  The evidence has become overwhelming that global warming is happening and it is happening fast, and we humans are largely responsible.  Limiting meat consumption around the world is the number one solution recommended by scientists to slow and potentially tackle this issue that will undoubtedly impose devastating consequences if we do not take realistic actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

 

Cows. Flickr: Joost J Bakker IJmuiden

 

The World Preservation Foundation is an organization based in the United Kingdom devoted to researching the most effective means to reduce global warming urgently.  The primary conclusion of the prestigious scientists studying this issue is that over fifty percent of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions are from livestock raising (and the dietary patterns that drive it). This figure was derived from a 2009 report from the Worldwatch Institute in addition to the United Nations’ famous report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, which argues that livestock farming is one of the most significant contributors to this serious environmental problem.1 This means that a 50 percent reduction in livestock products worldwide could result in a minimum 25 percent reduction in GHG emissions.2 Those are huge figures! Imagine what we could accomplish if we all ate less meat.  Unfortunately meat consumption is still rising throughout the world.

Why is the production of animal meat from factory farms so detrimental to our planet? Livestock farming contributes methane, ozone, black carbon and nitrous oxide to the environment, as well as carbon dioxide.  These gases warm the planet rapidly, which will result in ever more challenging environmental problems if we do not take action to limit emissions.  For instance, methane interacts with aerosols in the atmosphere and becomes 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide over the course of a century to increase the global warming process.  Additionally, the potency of methane to carbon dioxide increases over time, trapping 100 times more heat over 5 years.  Also note, scientists have shown that black carbon (aka soot) is responsible for 45 percent of the warming of the Artic.  Black carbon is 680 times as heat-trapping as carbon dioxide and it causes ice sheets and glaciers around the world to melt even faster.3  Brazilian researchers have found black carbon in the most rapidly warming areas of Antarctica, where 50 percent is related to the burning of trees in the Amazon, and 40 percent to the livestock industry.4

How does livestock create black carbon? It actually comes from animal waste produced on factory farms, waste processing, and the burning of vegetation to accommodate crops used to feed livestock.  NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports that cutting black carbon produced from biofuels like wood or dung could help reduce the estimated 1.5 million premature deaths per year attributed to biofuel soot.5

In addition to the above statistics, there really are so many environmental consequences to eating meat that we don’t think about as we peruse the aisles of the grocery store.  For example, the raising of animals for food production sacrifices much more land than would the amount of land used to grow fruits, vegetables, and other plant crops.  We are now clearing acres upon acres of the rainforest to feed the growing demand for animal products in developing nations.  Not only does this cleared land sacrifice the original forest and its capacity to sequester carbon in trees or in the soil, but these lost trees sacrifice a tragic amount of plant and animal species.  It is truly sad to imagine the loss of life in the rainforest due to human inflicted degradation. Statistically we are talking big numbers: two thirds of the plant and animal species on earth reside in tropical forests, of which 5 million acres are destroyed every year releasing 2 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing 20-to 25% of global warming.These dense forests are the “lungs of the earth” and our healthy survival is potentially dependent on their existence. 

Not eating meat or reducing our consumption is highly protective to our health, but we all should take note that we are doing a huge service to the planet and posterity by avoiding meat and sharing meat-free meals with our families and friends.  Check out www.worldpreservationfoundation.org for more information.

 

References:

1. Livestock’s Long Shadow, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006.

2. Livestock and Climate Change, Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, Worldwatch Institute, November/December 2009

3. A number of studies have addressed this issue, particularly those by Professor Heitor Evangelista and colleagues of Janeiro State University in Brazil, Professor Mark Jackson of the University of California at Berkeley, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. See news reports by Lauren Morello, “Cutting Soot Emissions May Slow Climate Change in the Arctic,” Scientific American, August 2, 2010,http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cutting-soot-emissions-may-slow-climatechange-in-the-arctic as well as by Randy Boswell, “Soot Is Second Leading Cause of Climate Change: Study,” Ottawa Citizen, August 1, 2010,http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Soot+second+leading+cause+

 

climate+change+study/3349011/story.html?cid=megadrop_story#ixzz0vekfEf8s

 

4. Aerosols May Drive a Significant Portion of Arctic Warming,

Adam Voiland, NASA’s Earth Science News Team, August 2009

The Cattle Realm report, Roberto Smeraldi, Amzônia Brasileira (Friends of the Earth– Brazilian Amazon) 2008

5. Jacobson, M. Z. (2010), Short-term effects of controlling fossil-fuel soot, biofuel soot and gases, and methane on climate, Arctic ice, and air pollution health, J. Geophys. Res.115, D14209, doi:10.1029/2009JD013795.

6. Statistic from: www.worldpreservationfoundation.org

 

 

Red meat consumption increases ischemic stroke risk

Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., and the third leading cause of death, killing 137,000 Americans each year.[1]

There are two types of stroke – ischemic and hemorrhagic. Most strokes (about 85%) are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain becomes blocked either by a clot or a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque. The minority of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes, caused by the rupture of a blood vessel leading to bleeding in the brain. Ischemic stroke, similar to a heart attack, is caused by atherosclerosis, whereas hemorrhagic stroke is primarily caused by vessel damage due to years of elevated blood pressure.

A recent study has found that the consumption of red meat, at quantities similar to the average American’s intake, is associated with a large increase in risk of ischemic stroke. Processed meats were also associated with ischemic stroke risk. [2]

In this study, dietary patterns of 34,670 Swedish women were recorded, and the incidence of stroke was recorded over the following 10 years. The women had no cancer or cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. Women who ate at least 3.6 ounces of red meat daily were 42% more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, compared to those who ate less than one ounce per day. The average American eats 3 ounces of red meat daily, which in this study was associated with a 22% increase in risk. Also, women who ate 1.5 ounces or more of processed meat per day had a 24% increase in risk for ischemic stroke compared to those who ate less than 0.5 ounces per day.[3, 4]

Raw meat. Flickr: Virtual Ern

In contrast, there is new evidence that dietary antioxidants, as measured by total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of the diet are protective against ischemic stroke.

Participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), with the highest vs. lowest TAC had a 59% reduction in risk. Of course the foods with the highest antioxidant capacity are the nutrient-dense plant foods like green vegetables and berries. [5]

What is the connection between red and processed meats and ischemic stroke?

Atherosclerosis. First, red meat is a calorie-dense, protein-concentrated, saturated fat-rich food with a low content of micronutrients – these characteristics promote inflammation, weight gain and increased cholesterol levels, leading to formation of atherosclerotic plaque. As such, red meat consumption is associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease and all-cause mortality. [6-9] Since atherosclerotic heart disease and ischemic stroke are so similar, it makes sense that red meat consumption would also increase stroke risk.

Blood pressure is another potential connection. Processed meats are usually high in sodium, which contributes to elevated blood pressure, the most important risk factor for both types of stroke; elevated blood pressure accounts for 62% of strokes.[10] Although salt intake is the dietary factor most known for increasing blood pressure, red meat intake is also associated with high blood pressure. Women who consumed 3.5 servings of red meat per week were found to have a 24% increase in risk of hypertension over a ten-year follow-up period.[11] A 7-year study of middle-aged men similarly found that meat intake was associated with larger increases in blood pressure, while vegetable and fruit intake were associated with smaller increases in blood pressure over time.[12]

Heme iron present in red meat is another factor, which may raise blood pressure and increase oxidative stress. Positive associations were found between heme iron (found only in animal foods) and blood pressure, and negative associations were found between non-heme iron (found in plant foods) intake and blood pressure. [13] Also, the heme iron in red meat can accumulate and cause free radical damage, which is known to contribute to the atherosclerotic process. [14]

These studies paint a clear picture – high nutrient, high antioxidant foods like vegetables and fruit are protective against stroke, and red and processed meats – low nutrient, low antioxidant foods - increase the risk of stroke.

 

References:
1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Stroke. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/.
2. Larsson, S.C., J. Virtamo, and A. Wolk, Red meat consumption and risk of stroke in Swedish women. Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation, 2011. 42(2): p. 324-9.
3. Reuters: Red meat raises women's stroke risk: study. The Montreal Gazette.
4. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Loss-adjusted Food Availibility: Spreadsheets. Available from: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodConsumption/FoodGuideSpreadsheets.htm#meat.
5. Del Rio, D., et al., Total antioxidant capacity of the diet is associated with lower risk of ischemic stroke in a large Italian cohort. The Journal of nutrition, 2011. 141(1): p. 118-23.
6. Preis, S.R., et al., Dietary protein and risk of ischemic heart disease in middle-aged men. Am J Clin Nutr, 2010. 92(5): p. 1265-72.
7. Sinha, R., et al., Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med, 2009. 169(6): p. 562-71.
8. Jakobsen, M.U., et al., Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 89(5): p. 1425-32.
9. Fraser, G.E., Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases? The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2009. 89(5): p. 1607S-1612S.
10. He, F.J. and G.A. MacGregor, A comprehensive review on salt and health and current experience of worldwide salt reduction programmes. J Hum Hypertens, 2009. 23(6): p. 363-84.
11. Wang, L., et al., Meat intake and the risk of hypertension in middle-aged and older women. Journal of hypertension, 2008. 26(2): p. 215-22.
12. Miura, K., et al., Relation of vegetable, fruit, and meat intake to 7-year blood pressure change in middle-aged men: the Chicago Western Electric Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2004. 159(6): p. 572-80.
13. Tzoulaki, I., et al., Relation of iron and red meat intake to blood pressure: cross sectional epidemiological study. Bmj, 2008. 337: p. a258.
14. Brewer, G.J., Iron and copper toxicity in diseases of aging, particularly atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 2007. 232(2): p. 323-35.

 

How Much Rainforest Do You Eat?

Although vegetarians and vegans all have the avoidance of meat eating in common, their reasons for eschewing animal products are diverse. After all, in addition to the health benefits from abstaining from meat, many are motivated by animal suffering and certainly there are compelling environmental reasons. Meat-free followers of Dr. Fuhrman obviously do it for health reasons or a combination of health reasons and other motivations. I respect my father for providing information on nutrition and nutrition alone, without animal welfare or environmental motivations, as that is not his field of expertise.

However, I think it would be wonderful, perhaps even a necessity, if everyone understood the powerful connection our own health has with the health of the planet and the animals we share it with. My last post discussed the relationship between meat production, global warming, and world hunger. I learned much of this information at a global warming conference conducted by the World Preservation Foundation based in London. Let’s all open our eyes to the possibility here that this information may be critical for all of us.Rainforest.  Flickr: Webbaliah

It is no secret that the rainforests of the Earth are a truly magical, natural wonder. It also happens to be a place that we are massively, rapidly, and irreversibly destroying. The rainforest is home to intricate ecosystems and more unique plants and animal species than anywhere else in the world.

Amazingly, two-thirds of all known plant and animal species are found in the rainforest while rainforests themselves cover just 2 percent of the Earth’s surface. Not only are rainforests home to countless plants and animals, but they are literally the “lungs of the Earth”. Rainforests are the single greatest terrestrial source of the oxygen in the air that we breathe. Keep this information in mind while reading the following statistics about how quickly we are destroying it to meet global demands for meat:

  1. We are currently facing one of the greatest mass extinctions ever to occur on Earth. Over 30 percent of the biodiversity on this planet has been lost since 1970. In the tropics, we’ve already lost over 60 percent of its biodiversity. A study conducted by the United Nations found that the rate of current plant and animal extinctions is over 1000 times the natural rate of extinction. This is by no means a natural phenomenon. The majority of these extinctions are due to abolition of the rainforest in order to grow soy and corn to feed livestock.
  2. Brazil is the largest beef industry in the world; the country produces roughly 7 million metric tons of beef every year from a total population of 165 million cattle.
  3. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 91 percent of the Amazon rainforest that has been destroyed since 1970 can be attributed to cattle raising, including the growing of feed crops
  4. Rampant deforestation for cattle-raising is becoming popular in Central America. Since 1960, more than 25 percent of the area’s rainforests have been cleared for pastures alone.
  5. The United States is the largest beef importer in the world, importing beef from Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil and most recently, Costa Rica. Many US livestock companies are reported to have purchased tracks of rainforest in Costa Rica for cattle-raising, which is sold back as beef to the United States.
  6. The Cerrado, or Brazilian Savannah, is home to 5% of global biodiversity, but is being rapidly converted into farmland used to produce soy to feed agricultural animals. 400 square kilometers of the Cerrado is cut down each year to meet beef demands in the UK alone.
  7. Overstocking and overgrazing leaves the land depleted of most nutrients, which accelerates desertification. Chopping down the irreplaceable and wonderfully gargantuan rainforest trees results in the abolition of our huge carbon dioxide conversion tank and the world’s primary oxygen supply.
  8. If global warming rates continue as they currently are, within a few decades the earth’s temperature will rise 3.5 degrees C. This will be enough to complete destroy the Amazon Rainforest and further accelerate the rate of global warming, the melting of the ice caps and the rise of sea level, obliterating costal human habitats.

For those of you who have commented, “I don’t believe in global warming.”
I wish you could have been there to see live satellite photos of thousands of square miles of the forest up in smoke, with huge clouds of black soot rising into the clouds. The amount of oxygen-producing forests that already have been decimated is clearly measurable and not a belief option. Why would one deny this exists, that humans contribute to it or that the ice masses are melting? It is not a myth that humans are destroying the natural habitats, and the species of plant life that are important for the health of our planet and that this, among other human activities, contributes to global warming.

I realize there are people who have an opposing view, but the increasing demands for meat-eating by formerly underdeveloped, highly populated nations, could dramatically increase the rate of destruction of the forest, over-utilize limited fresh water supplies, and dramatically add to pollution, in addition to increasing carbon dioxide and the gradual warming of the planet.

As I write this, I think of the movie Wall-E, in which the Earth became one big wasteland and the obese, lazy humans of the future have to move to a spaceship because planet Earth is no longer hospitable. I do not speak for my father, but as a young adult interested in the future of this world, clearly, saying no to meat-eating is a simple change that we can all make to protect the world’s precious natural resources. Maybe we’ll save a few human lives too in the process.

Pooled data from 12 different studies: High meat intake increases diabetes risk

Usually, when we think about foods that increase diabetes risk, we think of white flour-based processed foods, sugary sodas, and desserts, since these foods are known to produce dangerous increases in blood glucose. Also, many diabetics are under the impression that that they should avoid carbohydrate-containing foods, and eat higher levels of protein to keep their blood glucose levels in check. However, dietary factors associated with diabetes are not a simple question of carbohydrate vs. protein. Whole food sources of carbohydrate, like fruit and whole grains, are protective.1 On the other hand, several studies have now confirmed that high intake of meat, which contains no carbohydrate, increases the risk of diabetes.

Steak

A meta-analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies has revealed that high total meat intake increased type 2 diabetes risk 17% above low intake, high red meat intake increased risk 21%, and high processed meat intake increased risk 41%.2

All the reasons behind these associations are not yet clear. One possibility is the pro-oxidant properties of heme iron (found only in animal products), the primary source of which is red meat. High dietary intake of heme iron and also high body stores of iron have been previously associated with increased diabetes risk in multiple studies3,4, whereas dietary nonheme iron (found only in plant foods) was protective. Heme iron from fish and poultry was also associated with diabetes risk.4 Oxidative stress, which may be brought on by excessive iron, plays an important role in the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which contribute to both insulin resistance and diabetes complications.5 Also meat is a concentrated source of calories, it has a high caloric density and people can get a good blast of fat and protein, easily exceeding the body’s requirements for macronutrients.  Meat eating is also associated with weight gain and of course, excess body weight is the most important risk factor for diabetes. Like most other chronic diseases that plague Americans, diabetes is a consequence of a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet-style that is deficient in protective unrefined plant foods. 

 

References:

1. Bazzano LA et al. Intake of fruit, vegetables, and fruit juices and risk of diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jul;31(7):1311-7.

Kastorini CM, Panagiotakos DB. Dietary patterns and prevention of type 2 diabetes: from research to clinical practice; a systematic review. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2009 Nov;5(4):221-7.

2. Aune D, Ursin G, Veierød MB. Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia. 2009 Nov;52(11):2277-87.

3. Rajpathak SN, Crandall JP, Wylie-Rosett J, et al. The role of iron in type 2 diabetes in humans. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jul;1790(7):671-81.

Luan de C, Li H, Li SJ, et al. Body iron stores and dietary iron intake in relation to diabetes in adults in North China. Diabetes Care. 2008 Feb;31(2):285-6.

4. Rajpathak S, Ma J, Manson J, Willett WC, Hu FB. Iron intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women: a prospective cohort study. Diabetes Care. 2006

5. Reddy VP, Zhu X, Perry G, Smith MA. Oxidative stress in diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009 Apr;16(4):763-74.

Schalkwijk CG, Brouwers O, Stehouwer CD. Modulation of insulin action by advanced glycation end products: a new player in the field. Horm Metab Res. 2008 Sep;40(9):614-9.

What are true health-promoting and disease-promoting foods?

KaleTo truly consume a healthy diet, the vast majority of the diet must be composed of health-promoting foods, and disease-promoting foods must be avoided. To define health-promoting and disease-promoting foods, we can turn to science to learn which foods are consistently shown to be protective against chronic disease (or associated with disease risk), which foods are associated with longevity (or mortality), and which foods contain known anti-cancer substances (and which contain cancer-promoting substances).

True health-promoting foods – these foods have the power to protect, to heal and prolong human lifespan:

Green vegetables. Many green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, and kale) belong to the cruciferous family, vegetables that contain potent anti-cancer compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs).1 Green leaves are perhaps the most powerful longevity-inducing foods of all.

Onions and mushrooms also have well-documented cancer-protective properties. Onions and their Allium family members contain chemoprotective organosulfur compounds2, and consuming mushrooms regularly has been shown to decrease risk of breast cancer by over 60%.3

Fruits, especially berries and pomegranate. Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. They are full of antioxidants and have been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.4 Pomegranate has multiple cardiovascular health benefits, for example reducing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. 

Beans are an excellent, nutrient-dense weight-loss food - they have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain substances that lower cholesterol, and regular bean consumption is associated with decreased cancer risk.5

Nuts and seeds. Nuts contain a spectrum of beneficial nutrients including healthy fats , LDL-lowering phytosterols, circulation-promoting arginine, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet has been shown to aid in weight control.6 Seeds have even a richer micronutrient profile, abundant in trace minerals, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique. Flaxseeds provide abundant omega-3 fats, pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc and iron, and sesame seeds are high in calcium and multiple vitamin E fractions.

 

True disease-promoting foods – harmful foods that should be avoided:

Cheese, butter, and ice cream. These are dangerous foods that are loaded with saturated fat, that contribute to elevated cholesterol levels and several cancers.7 Dairy products are also associated with prostate cancer in men.8 

Potato chips and French fries. High heat cooking produces acrylamides, dangerous cancer-promoting substances. Acrylamides have been shown to cause genetic mutations in animal studies leading to several cancers. Fried starchy foods, like potato chips and fries, are especially high in acrylamides and other toxic compounds. Baked starchy foods like breakfast cereals and crackers also contain these dangerous substances.

Refined carbohydrates. Sugar and white flour products are not nutritionally inert, simply adding a few extra calories to the diet – they are harmful. Devoid of fiber and stripped of vital nutrients, these refined foods promote diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.9

Salt. The dangers of salt are increasingly recognized, with government agencies finally considering salt reduction programs. Excess salt intake contributes not only to high blood pressure, but also to kidney disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, ulcers, and stomach cancer. Salt consumption becomes the leading contributor to a premature death in a individual eating an otherwise health-supporting diet.

Pickled, smoked, barbecued, or processed meats. Processed meats have been strongly and consistently linked to colorectal cancer, and more recently have been linked to prostate cancer. Processed meats contain carcinogenic substances called heterocyclic amines.10 In fact, any type of meat cooked at a high temperature will also contain these substances – for example, grilled or fried chicken was found to have the highest level of heterocyclic amines.11 High processed meat intake is also associated with increased rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.12

 

grilled meat


References:

1. Higdon JV et al. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March ; 55(3): 224–236

2. Powolny AA, Singh SV. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):305-14.

3. Zhang M, et al. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer. 2009;124:1404-1408

4. Bazzano LA, Li TY, Joshipura KJ, Hu FB. Intake of fruit, vegetables, and fruit juices and risk of diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jul;31(7):1311-7.

Hannum SM. Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17.

Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Willis LM. Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1813S-7S.

Stoner GD, Wang LS, Casto BC. Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Sep;29(9):1665-74.

5. Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, et al. Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Aune D, De Stefani E, Ronco A, et al. Legume intake and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Causes Control. 2009 Nov;20(9):1605-15.

6. Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1643S-1648S. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

Mattes RD et al. Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults. J Nutr. 2008 Sep;138(9):1741S-1745S.

7. Kesteloot H, Lesaffre E, Joossens JV. Dairy fat, saturated animal fat, and cancer risk. Prev Med. 1991 Mar;20(2):226-36.

Genkinger JM, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al. Dairy products and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Feb;15(2):364-72.

Keszei AP, Schouten LJ, Goldbohm RA, et al. Dairy Intake and the Risk of Bladder Cancer in the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Dec 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Denke MA. Dietary fats, fatty acids, and their effects on lipoproteins. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2006 Nov;8(6):466-71.

8. Ma RW, Chapman K. A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer

prevention and treatment. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2009 Jun;22(3):187-99; quiz 200-2.

Kurahashi N, Inoue M, Iwasaki M. Japan Public Health Center-Based Prospective Study Group. Dairy product, saturated fatty acid, and calcium intake and prostate cancer in a prospective cohort of Japanese men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Apr;17(4):930-7.

Allen NE, Key TJ, Appleby PN, et al. Animal foods, protein, calcium and prostate cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Br J Cancer. 2008 May 6;98(9):1574-81. Epub 2008 Apr 1.

Ahn J, Albanes D, Peters U et al. Dairy products, calcium intake, and risk of prostate cancer in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trial. Cancer

Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Dec;16(12):2623-30.

Qin LQ, Xu JY, Wang PY, et al. Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer in Western countries: evidence from cohort studies. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16(3):467-76.

 Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, et al. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians Health Study. Presenta- tion, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.

 Bosetti C, Tzonou A, Lagiou P, et al. Fraction of prostate cancer attributed to diet in Athens, Greece. Eur J Cancer Prev 2000;9(2):119-23.

9. Barclay AW, Petocz P, McMillan-Price J, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk--a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):627-37.

Sieri S, Krogh V, Berrino F, et al. Dietary glycemic load and index and risk of coronary heart disease in a large italian cohort: the EPICOR study. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Apr 12;170(7):640-7.

Pisani P. Hyper-insulinaemia and cancer, meta-analyses of epidemiological studies. Arch Physiol Biochem. 2008 Feb;114(1):63-70.

10. Zheng W, Lee S. Well-done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer

Risk. Nutr Cancer. 2009 ; 61(4): 437–446.

11. Thomson B. Heterocyclic amine levels in cooked meat and the implication for New Zealanders. Eur J Cancer Prev 1999;8(3):201-06.

12. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al. Meat Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):562-571.

Processed foods, low-carb diets linked to depression

 

depressed man

(Image credit: Fakeelvis @Flickr)

Three recent studies document that consumption of processed foods increase odds of depression, and not only that, but those high protein, high fat diets (high in animal products) are also linked with more depression. The diet to protect against depression – that is simple, a high nutrient, plant-based diet outlined in my books, Eat for Health and Eat to Live

In one study, middle-aged subjects were categorized by their dietary patterns based on how much “whole” or “processed” food they consumed. The high processed foods group was characterized by high intake of sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products. Five years later, the researchers evaluated how many of the subjects had reported depression symptoms.

Subjects who ate the most whole foods had the lowest odds of depression, and those who ate the most processed foods had the highest odds of depression – 60% increased odds compared to those who ate the least amount of processed foods.1

Another study compared the effects of low-fat plant-based diet and low-carbohydrate animal-product-rich diet on mood in overweight women. Although both groups lost similar amounts of weight over one year, measures of mental health and mood only improved in the low-fat group. The low-carb dieters eating more fat and animal products had higher depression scores. The authors also cited previous human studies in which high protein, low-carbohydrate diets have resulted in cognitive impairment.2

A third study measured scores of depression before and after removing meat, poultry, and fish from subjects normally eating a typical American diet. Indicators of depression significantly decreased after removing all the animal products and shifting to a plant-based diet for 2 weeks. 3

Nutrition is crucial for regulating mood – high oxidative stress in the brain and low levels of several micronutrients have also been linked to depression.4  

These studies are a reminder that what we eat affects not only our physical health but our mental health as well. Combine great diet with light therapy, exercise, sufficient Vitamin D and the right fatty acid balance for the brain, and you have my protocol to beat depression

 

References:

1. Akbaraly TN et al. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;195(5):408-13.

2. Brinkworth et al. Long-term Effects of a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet

and a Low-Fat Diet on Mood and Cognitive Function. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(20):1873-1880

3. Beezhold BL et al. Preliminary evidence that vegetarian diet improves mood. American Public Health Association 2009 National Meeting, Abstract 206464. 

4. Leung BM, Kaplan BJ. Perinatal depression: prevalence, risks, and the nutrition link--a review of the literature. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Sep;109(9):1566-75.

 

3 Ways Foods Like This Can Be Harmful...

Many people suffer from medical ailments because they were never taught about their bodies’ nutritional requirements. We eat entirely too many low-nutrient foods, which gives us excessive calories without enough nutrients. Our nutrient-deprived body then craves more food, and the availability of calorie-rich, low-nutrient foods enables us to eat ourselves to death. A diet based on milk, meats, cheese, pasta, bread, fried foods, and sugar-filled snacks and drinks lays the groundwork for obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, and autoimmune illnesses.

THESE FOODS ARE HARMFUL IN THREE WAYS:
  1. They are high in disease-promoting substances that undermine our health.
  2. The more unhealthy foods we eat, the less health-promoting, plant-based foods we will eat.
  3. Consuming calories without the presence of antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals leads to a build-up of waste products in our cells because the body can’t remove normal cellular wastes without nutrients. The cells don’t have the raw materials needed for optimal or normal function. The lack in some substances and the excess in others age us prematurely and cause disease.

Foods that are refined, including chips, cookies, bread, and pasta, lose a dramatic amount of their nutrients in the refinement process. Plus, the process that browns foods and turns a grain into a baked flake or chip creates acrylamides—carcinogens that make these foods even more harmful. These processed foods are not only nutrient-poor, but they also contain elements that contribute to our health problems. They are typically high in salt, chemical food additives, trans fats, MSG, sodium nitrate, and other unhealthy ingredients.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

Image credit: delgaudm

Vegetarians Have Less Risk of Blood Cancer than Meat Eaters

Good news veg-heads! A new study in the British Journal of Cancer, involving more than 61,000 people—meat eaters and vegetarians—revealed vegetarians and vegans had lower risk of certain types of blood cancer, such as leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Vegetarians are 12 percent less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters and the advantage is particularly marked when it comes to cancers of the blood, British researchers said on Wednesday.

Past research has shown that eating lots of red or processed meat is linked to a higher rate of stomach cancer and the new study, involving more than 60,000 people, did confirm a lower risk of both stomach and bladder cancer.

But the most striking and surprising difference was in cancers of the blood -- such as leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma -- where the risk of disease was 45 percent lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

Via Reuters.

 

Image credit: Got Jenna