Archive for the ‘Health Promotion’ Category

Whole Food, Plant-Based Lifestyle Summary: The Facts
January 2, 2012

From my personal experience, my favorite benefits of a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle is the increased clarity of mind and energy levels. I can feel it that I am consuming what my body wants and needs on a cellular level. I love feeling overall so clean and good.  A plantbased diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. It also reduces or eliminates meat and dairy intake.

Several benefits of a plant-based lifestyle include:

  1. Cancer protection. Studies of vegetarians show that death rates from cancer are only about one-half to three-quarters of those of the general population.  While a plant-based diet prevents cancers and diseases, it is even so powerful as to reverse the diseases after diagnosis.
  2. A healthier heart. Specifically, since cholesterol is only found in animal products such as meat and dairy, they have lower cholesterol levels, and heart disease is less common in vegetarians. They also consume less saturated fat, keeping arteries plaque-free.
  3. A healthy blood pressure. An impressive number of studies show that vegetarians have lower blood pressure than nonvegetarians.
  4. Lower blood sugar levels. Diabetics can often reduce or even eliminate the need for medication by adopting a plant-based lifestyle.  Low blood sugar levels are also good for weight management.
  5. Increased fiber and decreased unhealthy fat. This keeps you clean and free of risky plaque and fat build-up, reducing risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
  6. Loaded with phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are cancer-fighting substances.
  7. Less likely to form either kidney stones or gallstones.
  8. Lower risk for osteoporosis. Further, those that eat little or no animal protein are at even lower risk for osteoporosis. A high intake of animal protein encourages the loss of calcium from the bones. Replacing animal products with plant foods reduces the amount of calcium lost. It’s true — people who live in countries where the diet is typically plant-based have little osteoporosis, even when calcium intake is lower than that in the dairy-consuming countries.

 

Control your quality of life by consuming a plant-based diet. Filling your plate with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains is the best means for disease prevention and even disease reversal. Equally important, a plant-based diet is the best means for feeling good inside and out, everyday. While it keeps your arteries clean and your cells happy, it also brightens your skin, eyes, and hair. Weight management is just an added bonus.

Eat your vegetables! A few consistent musts for your grocery list: broccoli, spinach, apples, and blueberries (I like the frozen bag at Costco). Also, try steaming kale and adding it to soup. Try quinoa! Add black beans to dishes and salads! There are endless options for a delicious, healthy, plant-based lifestyle. Wholefoodmommies.com is a great resource for recipes.

Wild Rice Mushroom Soup

 

Last week a friend of mine made the comment that “everyone gets cancer now!” He then proceeded to ask why. He is right; cancer rates are skyrocketing and it is now the second leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease (which is also closely linked to diet and lifestyle).

According to “Cancer Facts and Figures 2011,” “Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. Scientific evidence suggests that about one-third of cancer deaths expected to occur in 2011 will be related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition and thus could also be prevented. About 1,596,670 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2011. In 2011, about 571,950 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day. In the US, cancer accounts for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.”
While vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are the emphasis of a plant-based, whole-food lifestyle, limiting meat and dairy is also an important aspect. But, why? The science is consistently clear and unmistakable that meat and dairy consumption promote cancer growth along with many additional health concerns (high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and etcetera). Doctor T. Colin Campbell led the China Project, the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted, and discovered that cancer growth could literally be turned on or off by controlling animal protein consumption.

1. Milk and Dairy.

About 20 percent of our milk is genetically engineered, technically known as rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which contains high levels of a natural growth factor known as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor one). This survives digestion and is readily absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. Increased levels of IGF-1 have been shown to increase risks of breast cancer in 19 scientific publications, risks of colon cancer in 10 scientific publications, and prostate cancer in seven scientific publications. Of further concern, increased IGF-1 levels block natural defense mechanisms against cancers.

2. Meat.

US cattle are implanted with natural or synthetic sex hormones 100 days prior to slaughter in order to increase their meat yield. Not surprisingly, our meat is contaminated with high levels of sex hormones, which cause certain cancers, particularly breast cancer and prostate cancer. Based on these concerns, and as warned by the Cancer Prevention Coalition and five leading national experts, our meat poses increased risks of hormonal cancers, which have escalated since 1975: breast by 23 percent, prostate by 60 percent, and testis by 60 percent. These hormones are causing breast cancer and prostate cancer to be the leading sites for all cancer cases and deaths in the United States (250,000 cases for prostate cancer and another 250,000 cases for breast cancer in 2011). Meat has not been and is still not monitored for sex hormone levels by the USDA or FDA. Breast cancer rates are dramatically lower in countries where diets are plant-based. When people from those countries adopt a Western, meat-based diet, their rates of breast cancer soar. Vegetarians also have significantly lower rates of colon cancer than meat-eaters. Colon cancer is more closely associated with meat consumption than any other dietary factor.

“Increasing animal-based protein consumption up to dietary levels … associates with higher blood cholesterol levels and more atherosclerotic plaque (even more than saturated fat), greater risk of cancer (caused by multiple mechanisms), greater bone loss of calcium and higher risk of osteoporosis, greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and greater formation of kidney stones, to name just a few chronic diseases.” – T. Colin Campbell

 

Though cancer and disease rates are on the rise, adoption of a whole-food, plant-based diet is also rising. On December 1, 2011, the article “New Diet Changes Lifestyles” was a front-page story of Brigham Young University’s “The Daily Universe” and discussed benefits of a plant-based diet.  My health professor commented that this is not a new diet, but actually an ancient diet that we have simply strayed from through Westernization. The New York Times December 29, 2011 front page contained an article titled “No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem.” Nutritional confusion has overwhelmed the public for several decades, but nutritional truths are becoming more widely known and accepted. The consistent evidence of sound scientific research has become impossible to ignore. Start your whole-food, plant-based journey now!

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Perfectly Imbalanced
May 5, 2011

I work at a Wellness Program where I plan health challenges and health-related events.  Yesterday at work we were discussing a new online health-tracking tool. My supervisor commented that she removed, from the online program, a couple of food options on a list of “Foods Under 100 Calories” because they were not healthy options. A co-worker and friend of mine commented that that bugged her. I asked, “Why?” Her response was this, “Because balance is what is important.” I responded, “Well why not promote healthy eating?” She responded, “There is no such thing as a really healthy food and an unhealthy food.”

I beg to differ.

Foods vary greatly in health benefits. While some foods are rich in antioxidants and prevent cancer, other foods PROMOTE cancer growth and contain chemicals which truly harm our bodies. It is essential we understand the role food plays in our health; they are very directly related. The conversation with my co-worker continued. I argued that foods do vary in healthiness. She responded that it all comes down to a matter of balance; her argument was that no food is healthy or unhealthy if consumed in the appropriate balance.

Oh please.

Why do we need to balance the amount of green, nutrient-dense vegetables with McDonalds saturated with saturated fat burgers? We do not need a “balance” of unhealthy foods. We absolutely do not need our 7% of fatty and sugary foods (refer to top picture), which only increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, breast cancer, and hypertension! If we include these harmful products in our diet regularly, though some may call it balance, it actually imbalances our body processes. They are difficult for our body to digest, thus causing imbalance and nutritional stress.

You may argue, believing that you need some of your favorite unhealthy foods or snacks. Read on, my friends:

1. Taste buds change.


According to Dr. Oz, for a child it typically takes about ten times of eating a particular food to acquire a taste for it. For adults, the time is a little longer…but still remains true. Whole Food Mommies shares a couple of stories about acquiring taste buds for healthy eating:

A few months ago, one of my daughters needed to eat a red pepper (which she detests) in her salad.  As she took a bite, she got a surprised look on her face and exclaimed, “Mom, Mom, it’s my tenth time”.  Confused, I asked her what she meant.  She said,  “It must be my tenth time eating red peppers, because I love this.”  Sure enough, she has not complained once about red peppers since then.

 Last week my youngest groaned as he sat down to the dinner table and saw that we were having zucchini (again).  Tears welled up is his eyes and he said, “I HATE zucchini.”  We went through the same ritual that he needed to eat it but he could plus his nose if it helped.  He ate everything else on his plate, and painfully left the zucchini for last. With a little persuasion he finally took a bite.  As he did, his eyes popped, and he almost shouted, “My taste buds just hatched!”  His sisters knew exactly what he was talking about (I think they introduced him to the terminology) and cheered.  He now likes zucchini!

2. Nutrient satiety.  

Our bodies send us a signal when it is full. However, how full our stomach literally is is only half of the equation. The other part of the equation is the consumption of necessary nutrients. We feel full when we have received the nutrients we need. [Ever noticed how many bowels of sugar cereal it takes to feel partially satisfied?!]  Thus, my advice to those with cravings or favorite unhealthy foods is to eat a huge green salad, loaded with vegetables and light on the dressing (or any nutrient-dense meal) before eating that favorite unhealthy food. It is likely your body will feel great, and you will easily resist that unhealthy junk.

Ready, Set, Go!
April 12, 2011

Perhaps you have acknowledged changes in your lifestyle that need to be made. Perhaps you are even trying to change right now! Well, don’t give up. There are ample amount of challenges when making a major change, but it is well worth it. Here are some advice and tips from Whole Food Mommies for successfully improving your lifestyle and health:

1. Start Swapping.

Swap ….

meat for beans.

rice for quinoa.

fruit snacks for a banana.

whatever vegetables you are already eating for GREEN vegetables.

2. Involve the Whole Family.

– Give the kids 3 healthy options for dinner, and let them choose.

– Let the kids help cook.

– Read “The China Study,” “Eat to Live,” “Disease Proof Your Child,” or any other credible health book with your spouse. Then, make health decisions together.

By involving the whole family, you are not on your own. Further, the family doesn’t feel as forced into this new way of eating. Teach the family the reasons for the food choices they are making; it empowers them to make healthy decisions on their own in the future.

3. Take Small Steps.

Don’t try to change your diet all at once. Whole Food Mommies suggests picking one or two things to focus on until you are comfortable then continuing to add to it.

You got this.

A member of the Whole Food Mommies website made this comment about changing to a whole foods lifestyle:

“I originally read the cancer study because my son had read it and was quoting things i could not believe. For the last year i have been struggling with a milk allergy that my 4 yr old son got after a virus. When i read the cancer study it brought all my research and questions together. It finally all made sense to me. I also noticed it made me so mad, so mad that all these millions of higher ups know things we do not and because the power of money over rules health any day of the week the little people suffer. Thank god for mothers i say. Has anyone else had a child who has suffered from a milk allergy? rash,diareaha? moodiness? sleepless nights? It is terrible for a mother to watch her child suffer and it took almost a year to even figure out what it was. Any suggestions would be great. I love your websight. thanks”

“Be an Advocate of Joy” -Brandon Flowers
April 8, 2011

Our body can only function as well as we fuel it. In fact, the foods we eat directly affect the way we feel. Take note during the day of how you feel after you eat various foods. You will observe a strikingly regular correlation; if the food is processed, the body undergoes nutritional stress to digest it, and you feel crummy, moody, or tired. Whole foods fill the body with nutrients causing you to feel satiated, content, and energized. Thus, health brings joy.

I have a passion for sharing nutritional knowledge with others to aid them in experiencing how it feels to eat well. As an advocate of health, I have discovered that while directly seeking out conversation with individuals can be influential, being an example of health is more effective.  Let me share a couple of examples.

Last summer I went with a group of friends to Lagoon Amusement Park. As lunch time approached, the crew ordered Arby’s sandwiches. I had packed a bag of broccoli, grapes, and a sandwich. At first, as usual, people teasingly gave me hard time about it. However, I was shocked when a friend asked me for a piece. At first I thought he was only joking, still giving me a hard time, and I laughed. Suddenly I replied, “Wait, are you serious?” I passed him the bag of broccoli, and I was thrilled when the bag began getting passed around to each person in the group, each person taking a piece of broccoli! In fact, I was totally stoked my bag of broccoli returned to me empty. Later that day, as we stood in line for a roller coaster, a friend hollered down the line asking, “Hey Kylie! Got anymore broccoli??”

For my nineteenth birthday, I had a big party at my house. Just like any party, there was cake, volleyball, bonfire, friends….and broccoli 🙂 As a joke I put a bowel of broccoli next to my cake which was on the table. People eat what is available [so make healthy foods available to you by purchasing them instead of the processed]; the broccoli bowel had to be re-filled three times!

I like to think of health promotion as being rather than doing. Be a symbol of good health, and people will be influenced.

You Are What You Eat
April 8, 2011

Because you are what you eat, it would be wise to know what it is exactly you are eating. Compare these processed foods’ nutritional facts (particularly fat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and nutrient content) to the nutritional information of the whole foods also provided on the blog. 

Captain Crunch is a popular breakfast cereal. While it may satisfy the sweet tooth, it certainly does not satisfy the nutritional standard the body requires. This processed substance is high in sugar and sodium and exceptionally low in nutrients.  Further, check out the serving size; next time you pour a bowl of cereal, measure out the serving size.  FYI, nobody pours 3/4 cup of cereal for breakfast. Double or triple that amount, and now it is an American breakfast.

Fruit Snacks are a common pantry item in today’s society; the ready-to-go package is easy and convenient for the typical busy lifestyle. Plus, it’s basically fruit right? Wrong. Fruit snacks are sugar.  In fact, fruit is not even an ingredient! Despite the high sugar amounts, fruit snacks have no nutritional value. 100% Vitamin C is the best Kellogg’s could do. Well, nice try.  An orange has 160% Vitamin C with additional health benefits and without the detrimental sugar.

Little Caesars Pizza is a clogged artery for only $5 (not including future hospital procedures or costs). The total amounts of calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium in one slice is outrageous. Note that the pizza slice contains zero nutrients.

The Power of Whole Foods
April 8, 2011

Diet and health have a very direct relationship. Our body’s ability to function is affected by the fuel we choose to consume.  Thus, it is essential we are knowledgeable in the quality of various foods.  Processed, highly refined substances are, in fact, hardly foods at all; rather, chemicals have been created and mixed together, made appealing, and tested for their safe consumption.   Read the ingredients on a food label (Tip: If a food has a food label, avoid it. It is likely not whole); the ingredients are not various foods mixed together but literally chemical names.


The irony is that while these processed substances are passed as edible and safe, they are deadly. In fact, these foods are the leading cause of death in America. Cardiovascular disease claims approximately 81,100,000 lives every year.  Both the tragedy and the beauty of this statistic is that Cardiovascular disease is largely preventable. 80-90% of most cancers are lifestyle based which means that 80-90% of cancer risk is preventable!

A whole foods life is the answer.

Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed.  Typically whole foods are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unlike processed substances, whole foods contain vital nutrients and essential protection from disease.  The nutrient per calorie density is extremely high. In other words, whole foods contain a high number of nutrients per calorie. As whole foods are incorporated into one’s lifestyle, quality of life increases; the body can heal itself of previous chronic conditions, protect itself from disease, and function optimally.

“Never before has there been such a mountain of empirical research supporting a whole foods, plant-based diet. People are beginning to sense the need for change and are beginning to question some of the most basic assumptions that we have about food and health- and are changing their lives for the better.” The China Study, T. Colin Campbell