I picked up a REALLY good diet book in the airport yesterday. The writing is a little crass (perhaps more than a little), but these authors tell it like it is, and they tell the TRUTH (so, so rare these days).
So even though it's not my presentation style, I'm going to go ahead and encourage you all to get your hands on this book. Perhaps you've already heard of it, since the cover says it's a New York Times Bestseller. It's called: Skinny Bitch. Excuse the swear words, but it is pretty funny... (It sure kept me entertained on my flight).
I don't agree with absolutely every little thing in this book, but the disagreements are few and far between. The overriding premise - on losing weight and becoming healthy - is right on.
There's also a recipe book by the same authors (I haven't read yet) called Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. Let me know what you think!
The title of today's post comes from an interesting article in the NY Times, please take the time to read the article online when you're done with this post.
Here's an excerpt:
The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) World meat consumption is expected to double again by 2050, which one expert, Henning Steinfeld of the United Nations, says is resulting in a “relentless growth in livestock production.”
Americans eat about the same amount of meat as we have for some time, about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average.
Yep, we Americans eat a lot of meat - not including dairy or eggs - and apparently we're influencing the rest of the world. Pretty soon non-western countries are going to need to install toilets everywhere (right now most just have pit latrines, which involves serious squatting, although the length of time depends on how much meat vs. vegetable matter you eat).
This also means we're likely to see other countries start developing more "western" diseases like type II diabetes, cancers, hypertension and heart disease. Meat isn't just becoming more fashionable, it's becoming cheaper to "raise" (see article). But how will the world function when EVERYONE is sick?
As a country, let's be the "global leader" we claim to be. Let's make be healthy a priority, pass that on to our children - and even the rest of the world.
What I forgot to mention in yesterday's post about calcium supplements:
A large study several years ago found older women taking calcium were no less likely to prevent osteoporosis, but they did have a much higher rate of kidney stones (calcium deposits in kidneys lead to stones).
When I mentioned this at a seminar I gave at a hospital, the MD's in the audience were very upset. In fact, even though my seminar had the largest turnout of any seminar this particular hospital hosted - and the general audience asked to have me return to speak - I was never invited back, due to my comments on calcium supplements.
I'm not out to villian-ize doctors. In fact, if I were a doctor and had received as many brochures from supplement companies showing that calcium prevents osteoporosis as they do, I'd be outraged at my comment as well. They aren't evil monsters, they just haven't figured out that when an industry sponsors "studies", those studies are quite biased. The same industry also goes to great lengths not to publish the studies they've sponsored that don't make their product look so good.
By now nearly everyone has heard of the study published on Jan. 16th in the British Medical Journal that found older women who took calcium supplements were 50% more likely to develop heart disease vs. those who took a placebo. But just in case you haven't - there you go.
"Why?" you wonder. I mean, isn't just about every MD in the U.S. advocating calcium supplements to women? And what could possibly be dangerous about taking calcium?
Hmmmmm.... Let's think. Is taking any old supplement safe?
The answer will always be no. Supplements are not safe, not even calcium ones. Remember that nutrients compete with one another in our body - they compete for carriers, enzymes and ultimately, absorption. So when we take one, two, or even multi-supplements (which do not nearly include all the nutrients we need), we are setting ourselves up for deficiencies of other nutrients. For example, calcium is well-known for competing with iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Since all of these minerals are necessary for bone building, it's ironic (pun not intended) that so many women are advised to take supplemental calcium.
Also, there tend to be unsuspected side effects of supplements. In the case of calcium, we learn it plays a greater role in the production of plaque than once believed, thus the heart disease. Or it could be a combination of excess calcium in plaque and copper or magnesium deficiency.
See, the body is one complex organism. We are still learning all the nuances. Let's not play games with something so unknown. Instead, let's nourish it well.
I know I've written more than a tad on hormones, but I'd like to share something a little off the hormones-as-usual bandwagon... like how hormones can be good.
For example: when you think good thoughts.
Who knew thinking good thoughts had anything to do with hormones? And if we knew, how might that change things? These days we hear a lot about a mind/body/spirit connection, and while some of it might be quackery, some is quite valid. Like when we have a positive attitude, our mindset actually changes the balance of chemicals in our body, producing more healthy hormones such as serotonin. These hormones make us more at ease, more relaxed - and, believe it or not - more likely to make more positive associations (read: think more good thoughts). So it's kind of like a good cycle or self-fulfilling prophecy.
The opposite is also true: when we think negatively we produce more stress hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol. These hormones not only make our bodies more rigid right down to our arteries (thus the high blood pressure/stress connection), but make us feel more argumentative and negative. Again, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Not only that, but these hormones affect our cravings: serotonin makes us more likely to want to eat healthy, high fiber foods, while the stress hormones propel us to crave refined carbohydrates and junk food. And of course, after you eat junk food you usually feel even more negative than before.
The world of nutrition is less simple than we once thought. You might "know" exactly how you should eat, but find it's extremely difficult to actually eat that way. Believe it or not, the problem just might be your attitude.
So let's fix our eyes on what is good. Let's find the few things we can to be grateful for and keep them in mind (literally). Let's NOT focus on all the problems, worries and uncertainties in our lives, but instead fix our thoughts on what is honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
I'm so excited about this blog - the content in it (apparently) has the power to make people healthy! Thus, you are forewarned.
No really, if you have recently subscribed, PLEASE try to read over past posts. I have tried to cover almost everything related to nutrition and health, and you'll be surprised at how much you - yes, even you - didn't know. But better yet, it will change the way you eat, and then it will change your health for the much, much better. Oh yeah, there are also recipes in older posts.
So there's that.
But here's something I haven't covered yet: are our bodies really all that different? I mean, people say all the time, "But how do you know that's the right diet for everyone... Our bodies are all so different."
Yes, our bodies are incredibly different in things like facial hair, pigmentation, eye shape, vocal chords (or at least the sounds they make) and fingerprints. But besides those highly characteristic traits, we are all alike as can be - inside and out. Just as we all have (or once had) two eyes, one nose, two arms and one mouth, so is our digestive system relatively like everyone else's. Sorry if you thought yours was unique.
So no, eating according to your blood type makes about as much sense as eating according to your natural hair color. Your ethnicity might make you a greater candidate for lactose intolerance, but that's just about it.
Our bodies are amazingly complex, with enzymes and hormones and sub-cellular organelles that do more than we could ever imagine... but everyone shares this complexity with the rest of us. And isn't that a good thing?
So how exactly is the human body designed to eat? A plant-based diet. A delicious one at that.
Labels: blood type diet
Okay, I know I'm a nutritionist, not an M.D., but since it's cold season and I happen to be recovering from one myself, I have to rant about how we "fight" colds here in our country.
Like I recently saw a commercial for a over-the-counter drug that "fights more than phlegm" (or something of that nature). All I can say is WHY? Why would you want to fight phlegm, when phlegm is white blood cells (mucus) produced by your lymphatic (immune) system to fight and shed the invading bacteria or virus? Who, in their right mind, would want to stop such a thing? It's called "healing".
I read a statistic a while back that said people who use cold medications have longer colds. On average, three days longer. Obviously, cold medications fight symptoms, but the symptoms - whether they be coughing, sneezing, runny nose or congestion - are the very things ridding our body of the invading pathogens making us sick. No my friend, we WANT phlegm: it's our armour against infectious disease. It's the people who cannot produce mucus we have to worry about.
Even diarrhea, vomitting and fever are ways our bodies heal themselves. Don't dare stop them. (This knowledge really helps weather an actual bout of sickness - when you tell yourself over and over, "I'm throwing up because my body is shedding a virus... my body is shedding a virus).
Why are Americans so well educated on some things, but have no idea about how our very own bodies work? Anyway, the next time you fall sick, rejoice that your immune system is responding, no matter how terrible you feel. And in the meantime, build that immune system by eating nutrient-laden food, drinking tons of water, exercising, and getting some natural sunlight.
Labels: immune system
You know you're a hypocrite when you recommend a book you haven't even had the chance to read... but oh well. Okay, so for those of you who haven't read Michael Pollan via his New York Times articles, or recent best seller, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals", now is your chance with his new book: "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" (2008).
His manifesto, in 7 words:
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Here's a quote:
"You're going to have to spend either more time or more money, and perhaps a little bit of both. And I think that's just the reality. It's really a question of priorities, and we have, in effect, devalued food. And what I'm arguing is to move it a little closer to the center of our lives, and that we are going to have to put more into it, but that it will be very rewarding if we do."
Oh yes, I'm all about Michael's reality. And indeed is it a reality.
Look around you: look at the people (or people groups) who find food close to the center of their lives... the people who savor food, who spend time and energy growing it, procuring it, purchasing it, preparing it, flavoring it, and of course, eating it. I'm talking about people who simply love food - not love/hate food. These are the healthiest - and often happiest - people on earth.
And then there's the opposite: those of us who will spend gobs of money on clothes, entertainment and other non-necessary items, but will go to great lengths to buy cheap food. We don't want to spend money or time on food. We just want it to taste good, or at least, taste alright. We, the people who put food on the periphery of life - as if it wasn't a basic necessity for health - are the least healthy and most compulsive in our pursuit of health. Just give us the quick fix supplements or pharmaceuticals and let us get on with life already. We're also the most tired and discontent of all mankind.
Let's start valuing food. Let's not draw dangerous, and flawed, distinctions between our bodies and what we put into them. Let's put food more in the center of our lives, and celebrate it with friends and loved ones.
Check out the latest studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, correlating low-fat and non-fat milk with prostate cancer. By the way, the reason that whole milk didn't show a link with prostate cancer is believed due to the added milk protein found only in low-fat and non-fat dairy products. Those proteins, such as casein, are likely to raise homocysteine levels (acts like a free radical, causing cancer and arterial plaque), and may have other cancer causing effects.
One study looked at questionnaires by 82,483 men in the Multiethnic Cohort Study, 4,404 of whom developed prostate cancer over a mean follow-up of eight years. Whether in the form of food or supplements, there was no association between calcium and vitamin D intake and prostate cancer risk. However, consuming 1 cup or more per day of low-fat or nonfat milk showed a positive association for developing prostate cancer, while whole milk consumption showed a decreased risk for total prostate cancer (includes nonadvanced, advanced, and fatal cases).
The other study assessed food frequency questionnaires among 293,888 participants of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP Diet and Health Study, 10,180 of whom were total prostate cancer cases. Skim milk consumption at two or more servings per day was positively associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Park S, Murphy SP, Wilkens LR, et al. Calcium, vitamin D, and dairy product intake and prostate cancer risk: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Am J Epid. 2007;166:1259-1269.
Park Y, Mitrou PN, Kipnis V, et al. Calcium, dairy foods, and risk of incident and fatal prostate cancer: the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Am J Epid. 2007;166:1270-1279.
Hey guys, here's a fresh study showing a very strong and scary correlation between meat of all types and breast cancer:
A substudy of the Diet, Cancer and Health study, a prospective cohort study established to evaluate the role of diet and cancer among 24,697 postmenopausal Danish women, was set up to evaluate the relationship between meat consumption and risk of breast cancer. This nested study looked at 378 women who developed breast cancer and matched them to controls who did not develop breast cancer. A higher intake of meat (red meat, poultry, fish, and processed meat) was associated with a significantly higher breast cancer incidence rate. Every 25 gram increase in consumption of total meat, red meat, and processed meat led to a 9, 15, and 23 percent increase in risk of breast cancer, respectively. However, the degree of risk may depend on genetics. Certain genes activate the carcinogens (heterocyclic amines) found in cooked meat. The study showed women with genes that rapidly activate these carcinogens are at particular risk of breast cancer if they eat meat.
Egeberg R, Olsen A, Autrup H, et al. Meat consumption, N-acetyl transferase 1 and 2 polymorphism and risk of breast cancer in Danish postmenopausal women. Eur J Canc Prev. 2008;17:39-47.
Before I commence my ranting: if you live in the Sacramento region, come hear me speak on preventing & reversing high blood pressure the Wednesday after next - the 16th - at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, 6:30pm, free. BTW, that is also Senior discount day at the Co-op for those of you who qualify.
Okay, now to ranting....
Last night we went out to dinner and I ordered a veggie focaccia sandwich. It was loaded with veggies (and a tad too much cheese), served on two very white pieces of bread. Now, I figure it might be difficult to find whole wheat focaccia bread, but I realized that nearly every time I go out, it's white bread (or white pasta, white rice or whole grain pizza crust). There are a few exceptions, but rare is the restaurant that offers truly whole wheat (or brown rice). Subway sandwiches "wheat bread" are hardly whole wheat for example.
And although I could rant at many faults in restaurant dining, this is my choice, because I just don't get it. Let me explain: I understand adding lots of salt and oil/butter - because people like that. I understand desserts - sweets taste good. I even get saving money by using trans-fats, although I despise it. But here's my beef, if you will: pizza on white crust, sandwiches on nearly white bread, pasta with white noodles, and Asian food with white rice doesn't make me full!
This is exactly what happens after I eat a meal as described above: about 1-2 hours later, I'm HUNGRY. So what happens? I eat whatever I can. Now, if I, as a nutritionist have this experience, how many other people are as well, albeit unknown to them? How many people are constantly hungry and overeating, or having their metabolisms plummet, because they aren't being nourished by their food?
It feels good to be full. You deserve to be full. Let's eat full-grains.
I'm thinking we need to know more about hormones and diet. If hormones control absolutely everything in our bodies (like our appetite and metabolism), then shouldn't we all learn how what we eat influences these powerful chemicals?
I've written previously about cortisol. This is a hormone we don't want high levels of, since it causes muscle tissue to break down and fat cells to reproduce - especially in the abdominal area. It is produced by unhealthly levels of stress in our lives.
But what about diet?
And speaking of hormones, what about during menopause?
Would you believe, I just happened to watch a PBS special featuring that menopause expert - Dr. Christine Northrup - who stated that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids does "wonders" for hot flashes? Good to know. By the way, since mercury doesn't do such wonders for any part of the neurological system, the best source of those Omega-3's are plant foods: nuts, seeds, flax, whole grain, beans, and fruit and veggies.
Dr. Northrup also talked up phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), as in those notoriously known in soy milk, as well as all legumes, whole grains, fruit and veggies (remember: plant estrogens are found in all plant foods). She even said similiar things you may have read on this blog previously - how these estrogens from plant foods can only act beneficially and never raise the risk of cancer or high estrogen levels.
Also, for those of us not suffering from menopause, I recently read that a plant-based diet helps increase Growth Hormone (GH). This hormone is an anabolist, meaning that it helps create more muscle tissue, not to mention it helps break down fat. In other words, it increases metabolism in all the good ways. Apparently, the abundant potassium and fiber from a fruit/veg/whole grain/legume diet both allow our bodies to produce healthy amounts of GH.
So just in case you didn't think there were enough reasons to eat a plant-based diet - or at least more of a plant-based diet - there you go.