I wrote a month ago about how as a nutritionist I believe in the power of a healthy diet, and I also believe in prayer. Check out this story of another health professional (a cardiologist) who obviously believes in both medicine and prayer:
WSVN-TV - 7 News Features - Raised From The Dead
A South Florida man was raised from the dead after his
cardiologist prayed for him. Reported by a South Florida local
Here's more crazy stuff I've been reading in The China Study (by T. Colin Campbell, PhD):
The strongest predictor of Western - chronic, metabolic - diseases (in a study conducted on 880 million people in China) was blood cholesterol.
The average rural Chinese person's cholesterol level was all of 127 mg/dL. Contrast that to the average American's cholesterol of 215 mg/dL. Findings showed that as blood cholesterol levels decreased, so did all types of cancers: liver, rectum, colon, lung, breast, childhood and adult leukemia, brain, stomach and esophagus.
In other words, having high levels of cholesterol affects much more than your heart and arteries. But now that you mention heart disease, at the time of the China Study (early '80's), the death rate from coronary heart disease was 17 times higher among American men vs. rural Chinese men. The death rate from breast cancer was 5 times higher for American women vs. rural Chinese women.
You've probably heard that a healthy cholesterol is below 200 mg/dL. Actually, go down about 50 mg. One third of all heart disease occurs among people with cholesterol levels between 150 and 200 mg/dL. Almost no heart disease occurs below 150 mg/dL. And if you think having a cholesterol that low is impossible, you are partly right. It is impossible to have a healthy (below 150) cholesterol level if you are following a typical American diet. But the more that diet consists of fruit, veg.s, whole grains and legumes, you will see just how low you can go.
What I enjoy most about doing this blog is giving people access to TRUE information on health and nutrition. Usually I do this by citing simple scientific studies. But every once in a while, I think we all need to hear a story of something so phenomenal – like someone who reverses terminal, end-stage cancer – to inspire us.
Allow me then to introduce you to Meg Wolff.
Here’s part of her amazing story, in her own words:
"I was diagnosed with bone cancer and consequently had to have my leg amputated when I was 33. Seven years later, at 40, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. I went through a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, and doctors still told me to “make my peace with God,” and reconcile with the fact that cancer would most likely be back within a year.
It wasn’t until this time that I drastically changed how I ate... I started eating a completely plant-based diet: no processed foods, no meat, eggs or dairy; just whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. That’s when everything changed. In very short order, I started feeling – and looking – much better. Nine years later, I’m healthier than most people I know. I believe my diet changed my body’s chemistry and made it inhospitable to cancer. It literally saved my life.
And I’m very happy and grateful. So really, then, how could I gain this knowledge and not spread it around?? Please visit my website: www.megwolff.com, as it contains lots of helpful information and resources, and I hope it’s a source of support, especially for people going through breast cancer and for their caregivers, and my blog: www.becoming-whole.com."
By the way, the book that "changed everything" for Meg was The China Study! Her story is a perfect example of how what we eat can either promote - or stop promoting - cancer cells during the very long second stage of cancer development. Cutting out all animal protein really works to stop cancer. Or to prevent it in the first place.
Here's what I made for dinner last night:
Seasoned Tempeh (page 85 in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook)
8 ounces tempeh
2 TBS white or cider vinegar
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS water
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 garlic clove, minced
Cut tempeh into small strips and set aside. In a non-reactive shallow bowl, stir together the marinade ingredients. Add the tempeh pieces and let marinade.
In a skillet, saute the tempeh in oil on medium high heat for 7-10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Salt to taste. Serve on toast with condiments for a delicious open-faced (or not) sandwich.
Labels: cancer prevention
I think I'm in love... with a book... on nutrition. I know it's geeky, but this is the best book on diet I've ever read. I've endorsed it on this blog before, but now I've actually read the entire book. It's called The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD.
Why is this particular book so incredible? Simple: it's shocking - and true.
What's interesting is that Dr. Campbell started his nutrition research (Cornell University) decades ago with the same nutrition beliefs most Americans had, and still have: that many people around the world are deficient in protein, and the more protein in the diet, the better.
What he wasn't prepared to learn was that according to his own laboratory studies (based on prior studies), animal protein PROMOTED cancer. Yes, rats that were intentionally given known cancer-causing substances were studied to see if the cancer went from the 1st stage (initiation) to the 2nd (promotion) according to how much animal protein they were given. While all rats underwent cancer initiation, only those fed a diet high (20% of calories) in animal protein experienced cancer promotion, where cancer cells proliferate. Dozens and dozens of studies showed this, using different carcinogens and showing different types of cancer.
What is especially shocking is that these studies didn't look at cholesterol or saturated fat, which is usually tied with animal protein. Nope, the animal protein itself was shown to promote cancer.
Also, the rats given a low (5% of calories) protein diet didn't develop cancer, even with extremely high levels of exposure to carcinogens. And if that weren't enough, plant protein showed no effect of cancer promotion.
This book is like a nutrition suspense novel. I wish every single American would read it. I'll post more about what I've gleaned from Dr. Campbell in the future.
Okay, I haven't posted a recipe in a very long time, and it's time to start back up.
This weekend I made the best lentil soup, and I ended up having lots of people over and ran out, so I made it again today! Thanks again to my Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook (page 206).
Curried Vegetables with Dahl (my shortened version)
1 & 1/2 cups red lentils (or other lentils)
4 cups hot water
1 onion, chopped
3 TBSP canola oil
3 sweet potatoes, diced
1 TBSP curry powder
1 tsp cumin
2 TBSP fresh ginger root
2 cups water
1/2 head cauliflower
3 TBSP lemon juice
salt to taste
Tip: to reduce cooking time, soak lentils in an equal volume of water for a few hours (or overnight) before beginning.
Rinse lentil, add 4 cups hot water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, uncover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender.
In a large pot, saute the onion in the oil for several minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, curry powder, cumin and ginger and continue to saute 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the 2 cups water. Cut the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. When the cauliflower is tender, stir in the lentils and lemon juice. Add salt to taste.
My friend Mary recently shared with me her experience with a dietician (Mary needs to lose weight and may be pre-diabetic). Here's what went down (paraphrased in a theatric voice by yours truly):
Dietician: Mary, you need to be eating three meals a day, no snacking. Also, limit your calories to 1,200 a day. And by all means count those carbs! No more than 45 grams (less than 200 calorie's worth) a day.
Mary: Oh, Okay.
(Scene change, now Mary is going about her daily life)
Mary, thinking to herself: Wow, I'm only supposed to be eating 45 grams of carbs all day? That's crazy. Now I can't eat my high fiber breakfast cereal... Or as many nuts or dried fruit... Or whole grain bread... Well, I'm doing it, but I'm HUNGRY.
(Melancholy theme music)
Mary falls off the bandwagon and starts eating fast food again. She wonders if she will ever be able to lose weight and all becomes hopeless for a while.
(Heroic theme music and scene change to a meeting with her friend Bronwyn)
Bronwyn: Mary, you can't possibly cut out all carbs - that would give you an extremely low fiber diet which would actually promote diabetes, not prevent it. And there's no way you can possibly live forever eating only 1,200 calories a day. Remember that calories from fiber not only regulate blood glucose levels; they also aren't absorbed, so those calories don't count. Not to mention for every 1 gram fiber we consume in our food, our body metabolises about 7 calories. So stop counting calories and carbs - instead just count fiber. Make sure you eat 25-40 grams a day.
Mary: That sounds so much more reasonable. You are a super-nutritionist Bronwyn!
Okay, so maybe I added that last line, but the rest is a true story! If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, don't you dare follow advice that counts all carbs as equal! Fiber is a carb - and it will prevent and even reverse insulin resistance!
A short list of foods high in fiber:
Avocados (and all fruit for that matter)
Dried fruit - all of it
All nuts and nutbutters
Beans, lentils, peas
Whole grains like brown rice, whole grain bread and popcorn
Artichoke hearts (and all other veg.s)
Okay, so my title today is a tad dramatic. But just yesterday I watched an online ABC interview where Diane Sawyers is listening to this senior researcher from Perdue University who is literally saying "just one diet soda a day raises the risk of metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity) between 30-40%".
Yes, just one diet soda a day does that, according to two very large and well-designed studies that followed people an average of 8-10 years.
The researcher went on, saying something strangely familiar (you'll find this on older posts in this blog): "When the brain tastes something sweet, it changes it's chemistry because it anticipates a high caloric load (read: lots of blood sugar). There's just something about the change of brain chemistry with artificial sweeteners that causes weight gain and raises the likelihood of metabolic syndrome that we don't understand."
Here's at least part of what happens to our brain chemistry when we consume artificial sweeteners: because our body now expects a ton of glucose to enter the bloodstream, it strains the pancreas to produce a lot of insulin. So we have these very high levels of insulin in our blood when there really shouldn't be any, and that messes with our insulin-sensitivity, or the effectiveness of insulin (thus the insulin-resistance). Also, these levels of insulin signal the brain to eat immediately, causing a craving for sugar and/or refined carbohydrates (thus the weight gain).
And if that weren't enough, aspertame has been linked with all kinds of neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease.
Artificial sweeteners are found in almost all chewing gum, and most non-fat and low-fat yogurt, in addition to the obvious places.
So please, if you know someone who drinks even one diet soda (or uses other forms of artificial sweeteners), pass this on or have them visit the online interview that aired yesterday (2/11/08) on ABC with Diane Sawyers.
I've recently mentioned that regular aspirin use can preclude our body's ability to form healthy blood clots, and thus, many people are hospitalized each year for excessive internal or external bleeding. Upon hearing this many people ask me, "Then why do so many doctors tell us to take aspirin to prevent heart disease?"
Simple. Most people in the medical community weigh the risk of excessive (possibly lethal) bleeding vs. the risk of heart disease for the average American over 40 or 50 years of age. Since FAR more people are experiencing various forms of heart disease (including warning signs such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, etc.) than those coming into the emergency rooms with non-stop bleeding, the obvious choice is to advise people at risk of heart disease to take aspirin.
However, that's a very simple formula to make such a grandiose decision.
From a nutritionist's perspective, I can tell you (which most doctors can not) that regular aspirin use can, and often does, cause a depletion of the nutrient folic acid.
Ironically, folic acid plays an enormous role in preventing heart disease as well, as it lowers homocysteine levels (homocysteine is a key contributor to arterial plaque formation).
In fact, regular aspirin use can deplete folic acid stores enough to cause Spina Bifida in a baby (as can regular antacid use, alcohol, smoking, and oral contraceptive
And as a nutritionist, I also know that increasing Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet through simple foods such as canola and extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and legumes will have the same effect - preventing "bad" blood clots - as aspirin, without the risks of preventing healthy blood clots.
Just like every medication has side effects, so does aspirin. Healthy foods do too, but the side effects are always beneficial.
Those of you who've read my little weight loss book, The UnDiet, already know that when I took dairy out of my diet I lost 20 pounds over the course of a year. I always attributed that to the naturally occurring hormones in dairy products. I admit, I still do eat a little cheese from time to time, and it IS the hardest food to cut out of my diet.
Then, while reading the weight loss book, Skinny Bitch, I read:
"Cheese will rule our lives and fatten our asses if we don't kick the addiction. Cow's milk actually has traces of morphine it it... along with codeine and other opiates (since they are) naturally produced in cows' livers and end up in their milk. (The milk protein) casein... breaks apart during digestion and releases a whole slew of opiates. All these "feel good" chemicals exist so that newborns will nurse and thrive, and to ensure a bond between mothers and their young."
Wow, I get it now. According to the authors, these same opiates are released into human breast milk for the same reasons, and I remember my daughter seeming quite "high" immediately following her nursing sessions. I had no idea why, but man, she was happy!
But these opiates in cheese and dairy products are not doing us any favors, and they are indeed addictive, as I can personally testify. So let's all consume less (or no) dairy products, and get happy by being slimmer and healthier.
Okay, I'm a big believer in coincidence - like when I read two different books on two different subjects that cover the same subject - then, I randomly hear someone speak about the same subject. Well, that just happened. One was in the weight loss book, Skinny Bitch, that I just bought, and the other in a book about how children learn, and the third was in a conversation with my best friend from childhood.
Both books talked about ruts, or neurological pathways in our brain (which really do look like ruts when the brain is studied) created by our behavior. So when we say, "I'm in a rut", our brain is trained to take that particular pathway - usually something addictive - over and over.
Here's some interesting info on these ruts in our diet (according to Skinny Bitch):
* Anything the brain perceives to be enjoyable will cause dopamine (a neurotransmitter) to lock onto brain cells and build a permanent memory trace of where pleasure comes from.
* Besides drugs (including cigarettes and alcohol) chocolate, sugar and cheese affect this same part of our brain.
* Studies show that people with addictions (to drugs, cigarettes, alcohol AND food) have fewer receptors on their cells for dopamine. This means they don't feel nearly as good as people with more cell receptors, and thus they eat (smoke, use, drink) more to feel satisfied.
However, here's the good news (according to me, not SB):
Once we change our habits or addictions, our cells change to suit our new lifestyle. In other words, when we eat less junk, at first we crave it because we aren't getting the same levels of dopamine. But if we stick it out, our body starts producing neural (brain) cells with more dopamine-receptor sites. After a while, we find we need less and less to give us the same great feeling. And pretty soon that rut is just a shallow little ol' pathway, while we've created new, healthy pathways.
On a personal note, my best friend of many years just told me this happened to her. She had begun to eat a almost exclusively plant-based diet about one month ago. Then recently, at a social event, ate some teriaki chicken. (You must understand, this girl used to LOVE chicken). She said after three bites, she just couldn't eat any more. She said it literally tasted disgusting. Now she knows how I feel. It is so NOT hard to pass over foods that taste horrible to you. But it takes a while to allow old ruts to decompose.
Cheers to new, healthy ruts!
Can I just say how cathartic this blog is for me? I mean, you just think I'm here doling out nutrition knowledge; in truth I finally have a regular outlet to share my deepest nutrition maxims. Can you imagine being me? A person who has helped all these people get healthy by changing their diet, and yet day in and day out, seeing commercials/false advertisements, hearing all these misconceptions from the mouths of medical professionals, authors and other people highly influenced by food lobbies?
I'll just say it: it stinks. It makes me angry. It makes me feel like there's nothing I can do.
But then along came this thing called cyberspace.
So today, a (true) story for you.
At my church we have a prayer chain for "emergency prayer requests". These are for people who are usually in the E.R., or about to be. I believe in the power of prayer, thus I am on the prayer chain. But I also believe in the power of a healthy lifestyle, and so I am deeply grieved when some of these requests are the consequences of a cruddy diet. In the last week, two have been just that, and I just wish these people had been reading this blog...
The first was for a man with diverticulitis. If I had the chance, I would have told him that this disease is completely preventable, and that it is a literal atrophy of the colon due to years of eating a low fiber diet. Remember that fiber in our food is the only way to exercise the colon muscle - and without regular exercise, it will atrophy to the point of disease.
The second was a man who had what seemed like a growth on his liver. After a biopsy, it was revealed that it wasn't cancerous, but in fact severe internal bleeding (which seemed to coagulate) after taking a fall. It turns out this man was taking a daily dose of aspirin to lower his blood pressure. What they don't tell you is that regular aspirin use can prevent the body from making good blood clots - the kind that keep you from excessive bleeding. I would love for this man to know just how easy it is to lower blood pressure through his diet: lots of potassium, calcium and magnesium from unprocessed plant foods; lots of fiber (from food) to lower cholesterol which contributes to high blood pressure; lots of folic acid and antioxidants to keep his arteries from building plaque (both of which are found exclusively in fruit, veg.s, whole grains and legumes).
So with that said, please forward this post to anyone you know struggling with colon disorders (Irritable Bowel, colonitis or diverticulitis), or anyone taking aspirin for blood pressure. Maybe together, we can save some people a lot of pain.