According to an article published in ScienceDaily (May 23, 2007), commercially raised meats and dairy products carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria:
In a study published last year, researchers tested a variety of ready-to-eat food samples including seafood, meats, dairy, deli items and fresh produce purchased from several grocery chain stores. With the exception of processed cheese and yogurt, antibiotic-resistance gene-carrying bacteria were found in many food samples examined.
I know most of you have heard this before, but in the context of what I've been writing on (dysbiosis & Leaky Gut), I see the dangers of antibiotics in our food supply in a new light. So yes, they're leading to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but these microbes are also wiping out the beneficial intestinal flora of our gut, increasing "intestinal permeability", which leads to all these autoimmune disorders and food intolerances.
And think about it, if these bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, you can bet they're resistant to our own body's natural antibodies - which means they can do more damage than your average bacteria.
I'm sorry, I just don't understand why we the American consumers are still eating commercially produced meat and dairy. And I'm not even mentioning the steriod hormones given to livestock.
Recently I wrote about "Leaky Gut Syndrome", or increased intestinal permeability. If you recall, it's related to a lot of common ailments, particularly food intolerances and autoimmune diseases including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, Crohn's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, fibromyalgia, Candida, Lupis, and Type I diabetes, and frequent headaches.
So suffice it to say, it's a nasty disorder: one that should be avoided at all costs.
Thanks to my fellow nutrition blogger Meg Wolff (www.becomingwhole.typepad.com), I read a book called Digestive Wellness by Elisabeth Lispki, M.S., C.C.N. I found some interesting discoveries about Leaky Gut and it's precursor, "dysbiosis".
Dysbiosis simply means an unhealthy balance of intestinal bacteria: "bad" bacteria outnumber beneficial ones. Once we develop dysbiosis, we're on our way to Leaky Gut. According to Lispki, some of the known causes of dysbiosis are:
* Poor diet. Studies show that diets deficient in just one nutrient could cause a benign virus to mutate to a disease-producing organism. Yikes. Let's all vow to eat HEALTHY.
In fact, the most common type of dysbiosis is called "putrefaction dysbiosis", and comes from a "typical American high fat, high animal protein, low-fiber diet". Research has implicated putrefaction dysbiosis with breast and colon cancer. This type of dysbiosis can be corrected by increasing high fiber foods while decreasing meats and fats.
Low fiber diets increase stool transit time (duh!), allowing toxic by-products of digestion to concentrate & irritate the gut lining. These toxic by-products can decrease levels of beneficial intestinal bacteria, or flora.
* Regular use of pain killers. Both steriodal and non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are believed to suppress the immune system and cause irritation and inflammation of the intestinal tract, leading to Leaky Gut as well as colitis and ulcerative colitis. Steriodal drugs linked to dysbiosis are cortisone and prednisone. NSAIDs are aspirin, ibuprofin and indomethacin.
* Regular antacid use. Antacids change the environment of the digestive tract, which can allow harmful bacteria to thrive as well as wiping out healthy flora.
* Regular antibiotic use. Obviously, antibiotics wipe out healthy flora, which can contribute to harmful microbes taking over, thus producing dysbiosis.
* Oral contraceptives. Lipski didn't explain why oral contraceptives contribute to dysbiosis, but I imagine it would be the same mechanism as other steroids (cortisone and prednisone), since estrogen is also a steroid.
One thing Lipski didn't mention, but I believe is a contributor: the steriods and antibiotics in our food supply these days has increased exponentially. Consuming commercially raised meat, poultry, farm-raised fish, eggs and dairy products are most likely causing dysbiosis - and leaky gut - in many people.
So there you go. If you or someone you know struggles from food intolerance or an auto-immune disease, there's hope. In fact, since intestinal cells regenerate quickly (3-7 days), a change in diet and medication should bring hope rather soon.
Labels: leaky gut syndrome
I am reading a book titled "How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine", by Dr. Michael Murray and found some interesting tidbits:
* Dairy products & cancer
One study found women who consumed the highest amount of lactose (1 or more servings of dairy per day) had a 44% greater risk for all types of invasive ovarian cancer compared with those who ate the lowest amount. Also, men who consumed 2.5 servings/day of dairy products had a 50% increased risk of prostate cancer. Yikes.
* Cured meats (nitrates) & cancer in children
- Children who eat 12 hot dogs/month have nearly 10 times the risk of developing leukemia compared with children who do not eat hot dogs.
- Children who eat hot dogs once a wekk double their chances of brain tumors; eating them twice a week triples the risk.
- Pregnant women who eat two servings a day of any cured meat (ham, luncheon meat, sausage, pepperoni, bacon, pork & beans) have more than double the risk of bearing children who have brain cancer.
- Kids who eat the most ham, bacon and sausage have 3 times the risk of lymphoma.
- Kids who eat ground beef once a week have twice the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia compared with those who eat non; eating two or more hamburgers weekly tripled the risk.
* Benign tumors
(I didn't know exactly what a "benign tumor" was & thought this might be informative to you as well...) Benign tumors are not cancer because the cells are normal and non-mutated, and do not pose a threat to life. They can usually be surgically removed or treated with drugs. Cells from benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Once treated, such tumors usually do not come back.
* Fibrous foods fight cancer
I know I've written quite extensively on this, but it was nice to see it included so often in this book. Just to remind you, fiber traps toxins excreted in bile. Fiber binds with bile and its toxic load, excreting them right out the back door. A low fiber diet not only does not eliminate bile and toxins, but bacteria in the intestine often modify these toxins so they become even more damaging and cancer-causing. The author recommends at least 35 grams of fiber in your diet a day in order to prevent cancer.
Again, I know I've written about this before, but it's encouraging to see it in a book about preventing and fight cancer. Bioaccumulation means toxic substances concentrate at higher levels as we move up the food chain. This is why there are ridiculously more pesticides in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products than there are in fruits and vegetables. This is also true for other toxins, such as PCB's, dioxin, perchlorate, mercury, etc. For this reason the author recommends a no more than a very small amount of animal origin foods in the diet.
And I quote, "Study after study confirms one basic truth: The higher your intake of meat and other animal foods, the higher your risk of cancer - especially for the major cancers, such as colon, breast, prostate, and lung cancers."
I usually don't share personal stuff on this blog. My intention is to reveal the science of nutrition, not my life. But sometimes they overlap.
A few weeks ago I was hiking on a semi-remote trail near Squaw Valley (Lake Tahoe area). As I hiked I was praying for an opportunity to help people more in my life. As I neared the summit - the gorgeous wilderness - I felt as if I heard a small, still voice say "Do not despise what you do already". I took this to mean my nutrition teaching and this blog, which to be honest, I found hard to appreciate since I want to help MILLIONS of people, not just hundreds.
I wasn't sure this voice was really God (which I do believe in) or me, but as I hiked back down this mountainside (did I mention it's kinda remote?) a woman passing by said, "Bronwyn?". I slowly answered yes - because I had no idea who she was. She told me that I had spoken at a seminar she had attended, and that she has subsequently changed the family's diet. She also told me she loved this blog.
So there I was: it took more faith to believe this woman wasn't a confirmation of the voice - and my thus my prayer - than it did to believe.
Yet today, still more evidence:
One of my students who suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis told me she's feeling better than ever since she started taking my advice. Major changes have happened - changes that even the doctors haven't been able to address. Then, as I was walking on my way out the building, a former student runs right up to me and tells me how she's lost 25 pounds since she took my class, and has kept it off for 6 months now.
I am so encouraged. And therefore I pray that you too, dear reader, are encouraged to eat more healthy and pass this blog on to your friends and family who suffer from needless disease.
Oh yeah, and those of you who pray, I ask for your prayers. I was on the brink of having my second book published, but now it looks as if it might not happen. It looks as if I need a new literary agent. So I humbly covet your prayers for this to happen. Thank you all so much.
First, I am adding links for good websites to find vegan/vegetarian recipes. Please visit those links. I will not be writing many recipes on this blog, since it would be an infringement of copyright of other people's published recipes.
Yesterday my husband had lunch with two of his co-workers, both of which have recently (very recently - like three weeks ago) become "vegan". Both of them were sharing how much weight they'd lost: 15+ pounds in three weeks! Inspirational.
My friend Norbert alerted me to this amazing study just published by Reuters... apparently, our diet and lifestyle affects our genes. Who would'a thought? And it happens as quickly as in a few months!
Healthy Lifestyle Triggers Genetic Changes: Study
Proper Diet, Exercise May Affect Cancer Gene Expression
By Will Dunham
In a small study, the researchers tracked 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer who decided against conventional medical treatment such as surgery and radiation or hormone therapy.
The men underwent three months of major lifestyle changes, including eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products, moderate exercise such as walking for half an hour a day, and an hour of daily stress management methods such as meditation.
As expected, they lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and saw other health improvements. But the researchers found more profound changes when they compared prostate biopsies taken before and after the lifestyle changes.
After the three months, the men had changes in activity in about 500 genes -- including 48 that were turned on and 453 genes that were turned off.
The activity of disease-preventing genes increased while a number of disease-promoting genes, including those involved in prostate cancer and breast cancer, shut down, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
So while people blame their poor health on their genes, I suppose in a way they are right. Only, in many cases, we are the ones that create the poor health and thus the genetic factors. This is extremely good news: fatalism is dead.
I recently answered some common questions about protein in a vegetarian diet for a e-publication, and thought I'd copy here what I wrote. I know it's a lot of info, but since I hear these questions so often - and perhaps you do as well - I thought it worth posting.
1. What is the recommended daily allowance of protein?
The RDA for protein is .8 grams per kg lean body weight. To attain kilograms, divide weight in pounds by 2.2. It is usually between 40-60 grams/day.
2. Are there different types of protein? If so, what are they?
There are trillions of types of proteins, given that all our body cells are comprised of different proteins. However, there are about 22 amino acids that are used to constitute these proteins, and only 9 of these amino acids need to come from our diet.
Traditionally, animal-origin foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products have been touted as “perfect proteins”. This meant that all 9 essential amino acids are found in these foods. It was believed that in order to be a vegetarian you had to carefully “combine” foods so you consumed all 9 essential amino acids in one meal. Today we know this to be false. Yes, we still need all the same amino acids, but we only need to consume them within the time frame of a week – and that is nearly impossible to avoid in a typical varied diet, unless all you consume is jelly and jam for a week.
3. Does a plant-based diet offer enough protein to meet the RDA requirements?
Absolutely. Protein is the most difficult nutrient to become deficient in. Even worldwide, in developing countries where people have a very limited diet, protein deficiency (without extreme calorie deficiency) is extremely rare. Most vegans, or strict vegetarians, consume an average of 10% of their calories from protein, which is considered more than enough.
4. Legumes, nuts and soy products contain protein. Are there any other sources of protein available to vegetarians? If so, what are those sources?
All beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds are very high in protein. Yet whole grains also contain significant amounts of protein, and vegetables in slightly lesser amounts.
Interestingly, most Americans consume about double the amount of protein they need. Excessive protein, especially protein from animal foods, creates a great deal of acid (uric and sulfuric) in the bloodstream. The body neutralizes this by leaching calcium out of the bones. Once that calcium has been used, it goes right into the urine, or piles up in the kidney to produce kidney stones. Lack of dietary protein isn’t a concern, but consuming too much is, since it causes bone loss and kidney stones.
5. Is it necessary to combine different sources of protein in each meal to meet the requirements?
See response to question #2.
6. Are there any health benefits to a vegetarian diet? If so, what are they?
There is a myriad of benefits, ranging from significantly lower risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis to colon health and weight loss.
7. Are there any negative aspects to a plant-based diet? If so, what are they?
The only nutrient we do not receive from a vegan, or purely plant-based diet, is the vitamin B12. This vitamin is found in animal flesh and milk because livestock consume soil on their feed. Assuming that soil is healthy, it contains bacteria that produce B12.
However, the human liver can store B12 for 3 or more years, so B12 deficiency is rare. Also, healthy intestinal bacterial, or flora, produce some B12. It is recommended that long-time, pregnant, nursing or very young vegans take a supplement of B12 or consume food enriched with B12. Many cereals and soy, rice and almond milks are fortified with B12.
8. How do processed vegetarian food items (i.e. canned soups, frozen entrées and the “just-add-water” meals) compare nutritionally to freshly made meals?
As a nutritionist, I always persuade people to stay away from processed foods most of the time in general. Processed foods made from soy aren’t extremely detrimental once in a while, but they should not be consumed in place of real foods.
9. Are vegetarian diets safe for children? Do they have different nutritional needs than adults?
Vegetarian diets, assuming they do not consist of many processed foods, are beneficial for children. Children do have slightly higher protein needs (per body weight) vs. adults, but since children are smaller, they do not even need as much protein per day as an adult diet.
On a personal note, I was a strict vegetarian throughout my pregnancy and nursing period. My daughter has been a vegan since she was weaned, and is now four. She is tall for her age, slender, but not skinny. She’s very active. Also, she has never had an ear infection or any respiratory infection other than a cold.
10. Does a vegetarian diet have different effects on men vs. women?
I’m not sure that’s ever been researched. The benefits listed above apply equally to both, although the protective effective of a plant-based diet obviously protects women more from breast cancer and men from prostate cancer.
11. Is it safe for a pregnant woman to live on a plant-based diet? What are the positive/negative aspects?
See answer to #9. It is perfectly safe. The main negative aspect (in my experience) is that I was extremely hungry during the year that I nursed!
a. Does a vegetarian diet help prevent any diseases as compared to a meat-based diet?
Yes, see answer #6.
b. Is there an increase in any disease rates as a result of a vegetarian diet?
None observed, nor reason why there would be.
a. Is there a lower risk of weight gain on a plant-based diet?
Yes, plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans, lentils, peas, nuts & seeds) are particularly high in fiber, which is known to cause weight loss since fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. A high fiber diet also raises the body’s metabolism (every 1 gram fiber burns about 7 calories).
b. Is there a higher risk of weight gain due to increased carbohydrate intake in the form of pasta etc.?
It depends if the pasta and other carbohydrates are refined or whole grain. Refined – or white – pasta, rice and bread are low in fiber. Whole grain pasta, bread and brown rice are much higher in fiber, which contributes to substantial weight loss.
14. What is the RDA for calcium?
Between 800 and 1200 mg per day.
15. Vegans consume no animal or dairy products. Are there any calcium sources available for those on a vegan diet?
Legumes, vegetables, whole grains and most fruit contain adequate calcium levels. More importantly, that calcium is more absorbable than calcium from dairy products because these foods also contain other nutrients necessary for bone building such as beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, phosphorus, boron, magnesium, manganese, silicon, fiber and phytoestrogen compounds. Dairy products have none of these necessary nutrients, and therefore the calcium is less utilizable by the body.
16. If a longtime vegetarian unknowingly consumes a meat product, are there any physical effects he/she can expect? If so, why?
I think this depends on the person. I imagine most of the symptoms – such as stomach upset – would be more psychological, although meat does move through the gastrointestinal tract much more slowly than vegetables, and therefore could cause someone to feel overly full, sluggish, and less regular.
17. Are there any instances where you would recommend against a vegetarian diet? (i.e. someone with IBS or other digestive issues, compromised immune systems, certain disorders/diseases)
No. Ironically, people who suffer from digestive issues such as IBS are recommended to eat a high fiber diet. The only food that contains fiber is plant-based food. Plant-based foods also contain many more vitamins, minerals and phytocompounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so it actually contributes to immune system health.
18. Does a plant-based diet alter the effect of any prescription drugs?
Not to my knowledge. There is some suspicion that foods high in vitamin K (leafy greens in particular) might interfere with some drugs used to prevent blood clots, such as warfarin, since vitamin K is involved in blood clotting. But it’s unlikely that someone eating a healthy, plant-based diet would need to take warfarin.
19. For women, does a diet high in soy products alter their hormone levels? If so, in what way?
This is a huge myth. Phytoestrogens, like isoflavones in soy, only work to benefit our body’s level of estrogen. If a woman’s estrogen levels are running high, plant estrogens block cell receptor sites and therefore lower estrogen levels naturally. And when her estrogen levels are too low, phytoestrogens mimic real estrogen, thereby preventing bone loss. Thus, phytoestrogens actually protect women from breast cancer, not increase their risk.
It’s also interesting to note that all plant foods: fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, are loaded with plant estrogens. Women at risk for breast cancer are certainly never told to eat fewer fruit and vegetables due to their estrogen compounds.
20. There have been claims that soy products can reduce the symptoms of menopause. Is this true? If so, in what manner?
It has been the experience of many women that soy products reduce menopausal symptoms. This would be due to the phytoestrogens helping replace the loss of real estrogen after menopause. But again, all plant-based foods contain plant estrogens, so some women have reduced their menopausal symptoms by changing their diet to consume more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
I've recently become familiar with a "trendy" nutrition-ish cookbook called Nourishing Traditions. It comes from the Weston Price Foundation and is also associated with Dr. Mercola. The claims of the authors in this book are so far-fetched, I suspected right off (and still suspect) there are vested interests involved, as in the meat and dairy foundations.
Because there is sooooo much suspect information in this book (neatly enfolded in true nutrition info, therefore making Nourishing Traditions all the more seemingly fact-founded), I thought I'd just give you a well-researched link to someone else's review: Nourishing Traditions Fact-Check .
Remember, if something seems to contradict common sense, do the research before you swallow it whole.
Hello to all my new visitors! I want to encourage you to click on the "subscribe" button so you will receive my new posts in your email inbox every time I write. That way, you don't have to constantly check this blog for new content. Welcome.
Just for the record, I want to remind everyone that falafel is made of garbanzo beans and therefore would fall under the "legume" category. That should be good news, as falafel is easy to make and delicious to eat. Even my preschooler likes falafel. We stuff whole wheat pita bread with fried falafel balls, sliced yellow cherry tomatoes and garlic dill sauce (I found some at the local co-op made with tofu, non-dairy).
Just thought I'd write a little about how to ward off blindness, or Macular Degeneration. Turns out, one in 6 people aged 70, and one in 3 people aged 80 suffers blindness from this disease. The good news is, it's one of the "most compelling nutrition-disease relationships there is", according to researchers at Tufts University (my alma mater).
That is, when we consider two nutrients in particular: lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are caroteinoids (think: related to beta-carotene). Lutein and zeaxanthin are what give foods their yellow pigments, and are found in a variety of leafy greens and yellowish foods such as:
kale, chard, spinach, bok choy and other greens
sweet potatoes & yams
red and orange bell peppers
honey dew melon
Although the dark green leafy vegetables (kale, chard, spinach, etc.) contain the most lutein and zeaxanthin, consuming the other fruits and vegetables listed on a regular basis also adds up, so don't despair if you - like my husband - have a hard time eating lots of "greens". Also, researchers recommend those greens be cooked in order to break the tough cellular walls to access the nutrients.
Here's a quick recipe for yummy cooked spinach from The Veggie Queen cookbook:
1 large bunch spinach
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks green garlic, if available
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
After washing spinach, heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon juice and saute for 1 minute. Turn the heat to high and add the spinach 1/4 tsp salt and some freshly ground pepper. Wilt the spinach, tossing with tongs to coat with the hot oil and garlic. Serve immediately.
Labels: macular degeneration
Today friends, we are going to cover the mysteries of recent epidemics in the U.S. and other western countries: the crazy rise in food allergies and autoimmune diseases including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, Crohn's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, fibromyalgia, Candida, Lupis, and Type I diabetes, and frequent headaches.
Sound like a lot to cover? Not really, since all these disorders are actually very related.
Yep, all these diseases can be caused by what's called "Leaky Gut Syndrome". See, when our gut, or intestinal walls, become overly porous, toxic stuff (bacteria, parasites, toxins and fungi) that is meant to be removed via the GI tract (in the form of poop, of course) is not completely removed but "leaks" into the bloodstream. Along with unwanted toxins, partially undigested proteins from food also pass through the intestine, causing the body to attack not only those proteins (thus, the crazy rise in food allergies), but create immune cells to attack body cells and tissue that resemble these proteins - and many cells in our body resemble specific proteins from food - thus, the crazy rise in autoimmune diseases.
Isn't that crazy?
But what causes Leaky Gut Syndrome in the first place? Researchers believe several compounds to be the most common culprits. One biggie is antibiotics, since they wipe out healthy intestinal "flora" or bacteria. This allows the unhealthy bacteria and microbes to reproduce unchecked, which can lead to Leaky Gut. Also, one of the roles of healthy intestinal flora is to help demolish toxins traveling through the gut.
Another suspected cause of Leaky Gut is - would you believe - milk protein? If you've read my blog for very long, this shouldn't be terribly shocking. If you recall, bovine proteins found in dairy products aren't completely digestible in humans, thus they bombard intestinal walls, causing tissue to become more porous - or leaky.
So, besides the obvious: staying away from antibiotics and dairy products, you will also want to make sure you aren't eating foods containing antibiotics... which almost all commercially raised beef, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products contain (at least in the U.S.). Antibiotics are routinely used in livestock production not only to fight infection, but to make those animals produce more meat, eggs and milk faster than normal.
Also, it's recommended to eat a diet high in fiber (really, it is) to keep the intestines clean. The fiber helps to clean the colon and remove layers of debris which may contain detrimental microorganisms. So keep up the fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds).
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a really neat family. They live in a motorhome that is run on used vegetable oil which they procure from restaurants as they travel. They travel around, giving seminars on living more lightly: in fact, they call themselves the "Live Lightly Tour" (www.livelightlytour.com).
They are also raw food vegans.
It was interesting meeting them, because I consider my eating habits healthy, but compared to them I'm pretty mainstream. I'm also much, how shall we say... physically thicker, than the woman. And I'm usually the slim gal in the room, if you know what I mean.
So interestingly enough, this month's British Journal of Nutrition (Volume 99 Issue 06, pp 1293-1300) contains a study on raw food vegans. Although the study only examined a handful of nutrients, it did find that people who eat mainly raw foods are short on one nutrient in particular: lycopene. Lycopene is an important phytochemical, known for its antioxidant properties in fighting plaque, cancer and chronic disease.
Turns out that cooking tomatoes (and other vegetables) helps break down the plant's cellular walls, allowing lycopene (and other nutrients) to become more available for digestion in our bodies.
In other words, cooking your food isn't a bad idea.
That said, since cooking can leach other nutrients out of food, neither is eating some raw produce a bad idea.
So I guess here's where I stand on this raw food trend: eat lots of uncooked fruit. Then eat lots of vegetables, cooked or uncooked - but not overcooked (you know, the way Grandma used to cook 'em). Make sure to eat plenty of whole grains and legumes too, which are usually cooked. And try to eat as much of these foods when they're in season, grown locally, and of course, organic.
Here's a recipe of what I made last night for dinner: Bean Chili over Polenta
4 cups Cooked Azuki beans
1/2 cup fresh salsa
1/2 cup pizza sauce
Tabasco and salt to taste
Serve over polenta (or corn grits). Bob's Red Mill brand has a simple recipe on the back.
Labels: raw food