Skinky Fruit

Who’s tired of animals eating fruits and veggies? I’m not. Here’s a skink nibbling on some strawberries and bananas. Enjoy:

Superior Health is Up to You

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Do not expect to receive valuable health advice from your typical doctor. Physicians usually do not help; they rush through their patient appointments, especially in the current HMO climate, because they are paid so poorly for each visit and are pressured to see as many patients as possible each day. Your physician is likely doing just as poorly as you are and eating just as unhealthfully or worse. With proper nutritional intervention you could improve his health and reduce his risk of premature death more than he could help yours. Even when physicians offer their fullest time and effort, their recommendations are invariably too mild to have a significant benefit.

Drs. Randall S. Stafford and David Blumenthal, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, reviewed the records of more than 30,000 office visits to 1,521 U.S. Physicians of various specialties and found that doctors measured patients’ blood pressure during 50 percent of the visits. However doctors tested their patients’ cholesterol levels only 4.6 percent of the time. Physicians offered patients advice on how lose weight in 5.8 percent of the visits, and suggestions on how smokers could quit 3 percent of the time. On average, doctors gave patients advice on dietary and other changes that can help lower cholesterol in 4.3 percent of the visits, and advice on exercise in 11.5 percent of the visits. When records were reviewed in those who had cardiovascular disease, the typical (almost worthless) dietary counseling and exercise was usually never even mentioned.1 Obviously we have a long way to go.
Continue Reading...

Seniors: Get Your Vitamin D!

A couple months ago we learned that Vitamin D plays an important role in physical performance levels of the elderly. Here’s what Eric Nagourney of The New York Times reported:
The researchers, led by Denise K. Houston of Wake Forest University, drew on data from an Italian study in which more than 900 people 65 and older were tested for vitamin D levels and asked to perform several tasks. The researchers looked at how fast they walked, how quickly they could get out of a chair and how well they could balance.

By some estimates, about a quarter of elderly people do not get enough vitamin D. But it is not purely a matter of diet, the researchers said, because much of the body’s vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. Older people may be less likely to be in the sun, said the researchers, who also pointed out that skin produces vitamin D less well as it ages.
And now, Dutch research has determined the same thing. Vitamin D deficiency may be responsible for declining physical performance in seniors. Charnicia Huggins of Reuters reports:
"Physicians and the general public should be made more aware of the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, and more effort should be concentrated on the early detection and treatment of people with suboptimal levels of vitamin D," study co-author Dr. Paul Lips, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and his colleagues write.

Previous research has shown that low vitamin D status is not uncommon among seniors, which may be explained by their decreased exposure to sunshine, reduced dietary consumption of vitamin D, and reduced capacity to naturally synthesize the vitamin. This deficiency is known to result in bone loss and fractures, among other bone and muscle-related problems.
The research may be different, but the message remains the same—vitamin D is important! Especially for older people, I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain why. From Importance of Vitamin D:
Americans age 50 and older are at increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. As people age, skin cannot synthesize vitamin D as efficiently, and the kidney is less able to convert vitamin D to its active hormone form. It is estimated that as many as 30-40 percent of older adults with hip fractures are vitamin D insufficient.1 Therefore, older adults especially benefit from supplemental vitamin D.
Continue Reading...

Veganism: Unfair Treatment

ParentDish relays a story about a mom that may lose custody of her kids—why? Because she’s vegan. Read on:
Gail Nelson-Folkerson's estranged husband Jeff has filed a court application seeking primary custody of their five children (quintuplets, no less), citing control issues and the fact that she will not allow the kids to eat meat, eggs or dairy.

Obviously, the Father sees Veganism as unhealthy for his kids, though vegans would disagree arduously, noting that animal-free diets teach animal compassion and respect for other life while avoiding hormones infused in animal products and also avoiding junk like hamburgers and gravy.
I’m no lawyer, but, I can’t imagine any judge taking this seriously. What do you think?

Dueling Peppers

We all know veggies are great to eat, but they also make great action heroes! Take a look:

The force is strong with you my young pepper.

Get Some Antioxidants

Antioxidants, where do they come from? Diana Kohnle of HealthDay News has a quick list of sources. Take a peek:
  • Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and juices; berries and other fruits; dark green vegetables; red and yellow peppers.
  • Vitamin E, found in vegetable oils, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Selenium, found in whole grains, most vegetables, chicken, eggs, and most dairy products.
  • Beta carotene, found in colorful fruits and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, apricots, cantaloupes and mangoes.
Dr. Fuhrman would take issue with vegetable oil. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman doesn't consider oil to be all that healthy, even the long-heralded olive oil. He talks about it in Cholesterol Protection for Life:
I know you were told that olive oil is health food. It is not. Keep in mind, oil is processed food, it is not a natural whole food. Oils, even if they are monounsaturated, should not be health food because they are low in nutrients and contain 120 calories per tablespoon, promoting weight gain.

Sure, olive oil and almond oil are improvements over animal fats and margarine, but they still are a contributor to our overweight modern world. Overweight Americans consume and average of three tablespoons of oil in their daily diet, adding and extra 360 calories to their food each day. You need to reach a thinner, ideal weight to achieve maximum protection against heart disease and to reverse heart disease. Use oil, even olive oil sparingly or not at all; certainly, do not have more than one teaspoon per day.

Some Crabby Lettuce

Crabs eat lettuce? Apparently they do, and, they actually beg for it. Look:

Kids and Migraine Headaches

This ABC News report attempts to explain why kids get migraines, and, I think it does a good job, but, I wish they talked more about food triggers and less about medication treatment options. What do you think? Take a look:

Now, Dr. Fuhrman treats migraine suffers by focusing on their diet. He talks about it in Eat to Live. Here’s an excerpt:
My experience in treating migraine and severe-headache patients with a more comprehensive nutritional approach has shown that 90 to 95 percent of patients are able to remain headache-free after the first three-month period. These patients avoid common migraine triggers, but also in the healing phase they adhere to a strict natural-food vegan diet of primarily fruits and vegetables rich in natural starches like potatoes and brown rice. These patients must avoid all packaged and processed foods, which are notorious for containing hidden food additives, even though they are not disclosed on the labels. They also avoid all added salt.
Oh, and be sure to check out today’s post Retained Toxins are the Major Cause of Headaches.

Retained Toxins are the Major Cause of Headaches

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating for Health:

The standard theory that tension headaches are caused by widening of the blood vessels and migraines are caused by constriction of the blood vessels has been disproven in recent investigations.1 The evidence now illustrates that similarities between migraine and other types of headaches rather than the differences. The major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system. These chemical irritants may cause an oversensitivity of nerve tissue to other stimuli.

It has also been shown that tissue waste, such as nitric oxide and other irritating chemicals, can be released from both the nerves and blood vessels in the central nervous systems.2 These recent findings illustrate the biochemical players associated with detoxification in the central nervous systems. Withdrawal from toxins either taken orally or self-produced within the body is a form of detoxification. This merely means the body is actively engaged in an effort to lower the levels of waste retained in our cells. Sometimes this release of waste from cells can be painful; nevertheless, it has a positive benefit to the body. Our cells and the tissue they comprise must continually strive to maintain their purity to prevent early cellular degeneration and premature cell death.
Continue Reading...

Omega-3s Good for Baby

Earlier in the month we learned that Omega-3s help with blood pressure, and today, Reuters reports Omega-3s boost baby’s brainpower. More from reporter Amy Norton:
Researchers found that 9-month-olds whose mothers had eaten DHA-fortified bars during pregnancy performed better on a test of problem-solving abilities than infants whose mothers had not added DHA to their diets.

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is one of the major omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and tuna. Because of the fat's vital role in brain development, experts recommend that pregnant women get 300 milligrams (mg) of DHA each day.
However, research shows that few U.S. women meet this goal.

The new findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that women who do get adequate DHA may aid their infants' cognitive abilities.

Organic, Organic, Organic

ParentDish ponders, is organic really worth it? Let’s see if it is:
I like my apples with some holes, my peppers to be irregular, my blueberries to not be the size of car-tires, please. I am also cognizant of my footprint of the earth, much more so now that I've had Nolan. I feel like buying organic is a lighter tread on the earth. I have no idea why I feel that, though, especially since I heard on the radio the other day that organic food might actually put more strain on the earth because it has to travel such a distance to get to most local markets. I'm not sure whether it's true, but it certainly made me think.
For Dr. Fuhrman talking about organic, give this post a whirl: Is Organic Food Safer?

Junky Diets = Unhealthy Kids

Amie Hamlin is the Executive Director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, and, she’s steamed over the resistance to the idea of feeding kids healthfully. Here’s a recent Op-Ed piece she wrote for the Buffalo News. Look:
Contrary to food industry public relations, there are good and bad foods. Whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense plant foods contribute to good health. Schools should be setting a good example by focusing on these foods. Children go to school to learn. When schools offer foods that are inconsistent with what is being taught about nutrition, what message are we giving them?

Children will not starve in a healthy school food environment. They eat junk food because adults make it available and give them money to buy it. Schools are undermining the efforts of parents who feed their children healthfully at home. And for kids whose parents are not setting a good example at home, it’s even more important that schools offer only healthy choices.
Be sure to check out Amie’s website:

Tough Guy Hamster

This hamster gets some lettuces, gives you the evil eye, and then, stuffs his face. Take a look:

Leafy Green Puppy Dog

Okay, I’ve seen it all. The other day we had a salad eating cat and today—A DOG THAT EATS ORGANIC SALAD! Look:

Sleep and Fasting are Natural Restorers

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating for Health:

Therapeutic fasting can be compared to the recuperative therapy we rely on ever night when we sleep in order to charge the body for the next day. Excess stresses, whether from excess consumption of substances or from stressful physical and mental activities, impose negative biological effects on the body. Recuperation through sleep is responsible for rebuilding and preparing the body to handle the increasing demands. Rest and sleep enable the body to recover from the effects of these waking stresses, because the body can concentrate its repair efforts most effectively at this time when fewer demands are placed upon it.

Recuperation takes time, sometimes more time and effort than people recognize. The goal of fasting is to allow time to provide extended physiological rest for purposes of catching up with recuperative needs generated from the vicious cycle of overactivity, over stimulation, and dietary indiscretions.

The Longer the Belt, the Shorter the Life

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating for Health:

Many experiments in animals and observational studies in humans show that both severe malnutrition and overnutrition significantly lower resistance to disease. Longevity studies on humans excluding smokers, drinkers, and the chronically ill illustrate that the leanest live the longest.1 Though thinness is not the only criteria for health, it is undeniable that a person in good health, on a nutritious diet, who is below average weight has by far the best chance for a long life. The National Institute of Health also reports the same conclusion: when smokers and those with a disease that causes thinness are excluded, the greatest longevity is found in those whose weight is below average.2

When the diet is without deficiencies, minimum caloric intake greatly increases resistance to infectious disease. There are a host of mechanisms that strengthen our immune system and make the “soil” unwelcome for microbes when the body is not overfed. After studying various population groups, including underfed wartime prisoners, researchers have concluded that resistance to disease is highest on what would generally be considered an inadequate diet.3 It has been noted that when epidemics struck wartime prison camps, the underfed prisoners had a much lower morbidity than their overfed captors.

When we contract a viral infection and lose our appetites, nature is telling us to fast. It is a means the body has of powerfully exciting white blood cell activity and releasing more immune system modulators, such as interferon, thus enabling the body to more quickly and effectively recover.

The best way to guard against nutritional excesses, while still maintaining optimal assimilation of all essential nutrients, is to consume an abundance of natural plant products that are rich in vitamins and minerals. At the same time one must avoid empty calorie, processed food, fats, refined carbohydrates, and animal products, which are high in fat and protein and deficient in the nutrients that are most protective to our system.
Continue Reading...

High-Calorie + Low-Nutrient = Chubby

Reuters reports that consuming foods that are low in nutrients, but high calories is a one way street to fat town. Charnicia Huggins has more:
Foods that fill you up without packing a ton of calories can help in the battle of the bulge, results of a new study suggest.

In the study, obese women who reduced the "energy density" of their diet by cutting their intake of fats and adding more fruits and vegetables lost more weight over a 12-month period, and felt less hungry, than did those who simply reduced their fat intake.

"Incorporating low calorie-dense foods into the diet is an effective strategy for lowering calories and reducing hunger when you're trying to lose weight," study co-author Dr. Julia A. Ello-Martin, of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, told Reuters Health.

"This is an approach that allows you to focus on the foods that you should be eating" rather than focusing on restricting calories, she added.
For more on this concept, check out this previous post:

Leafy Green Kitty Cat

I never thought I’d see the day. Just give this cat a salad and she’s good to go:

Mediterranean Diet and Colon Cancer

According to Robert Preidt of Healthday News a new study is being conducted to see whether or not the Mediterranean way of eating can prevent colon cancer. Read on:
Along with its emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, olive oil and nuts, the Mediterranean diet limits high fat meats and processed foods. The Healthy People 2010 diet -- from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with moderate fat intake and limits on saturated fat.

"Overall eating patterns appear to be more important for cancer prevention than intakes of specific nutrients or food groups. We hope this study will give us an indication of the benefits that a person's diet can have on health, especially in terms of reducing the risk of colon cancer," Zora Djuric, research professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and principal investigator on the Healthy Eating for Colon Cancer Prevention study, said in a prepared statement.
For Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on the Mediterranean Diet, check out this previous post:

Can Vegetarian be Junky?

Personally, I’m not a vegetarian, but I do restrict my intake of animal products. For example, I don’t eat meat; no chicken, no beef, no turkey, no nothing, but, I do eat fish. So, does this mean I’m healthier than your standard American?

Well, according to Dr. Fuhrman the evidence is in my favor. In Cholesterol Protection for Life he points to the health advantages of a vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet like mine. From the book:
We do not know for sure. The preponderance of evidence suggests that either a near-vegetarian diet or a vegetarian diet is the best, especially for patients with heart disease. In the massive China-Oxford-Cornell Project, reduction in heart disease and cancer rates continued to be observed as participants reduced their animal-food consumption all the way down to 1.7 small servings per week. Under this level, there is not enough data available.

Some smaller studies suggest that a small amount of fish added to a vegetarian diet adds benefit, which is the result of the documented benefits from the increased DHA-fat from fish. This benefit can be achieved and heart reversal maximized on a strict vegetarian diet by including flaxseeds and nuts that contain omega-3 such as walnuts and the addition of a DHA supplement. Whether you are a strict vegetarian or not, your diet still must be plant-predominant to achieve protection against both heart disease and cancer.
But here’s the problem, most vegetarians still eat junky diets. Sure, they’re not eating a lot of meat, but many gorge themselves on imitation meat, processed soy foods, salt, sugar, and refined grains—yeah, not exactly Fuhrman-friendly. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman discusses the soy issue:
This brings to mind my basic theme of nutritional biodiversity--eat a variety of plant foods, and do not eat a soy-based diet.

Most of the processed soy products can be tasty additions to a plant-based diet, but they are generally high in salt and are not nutrient-dense foods, so use them sparingly. In conclusion, the soybean is a superior food, containing the difficult-to-find omega-3 fats. Beans in general are superior foods that fight against cancer and heart disease, which is why you will benefit from using a variety of beans in your diet.
I know quite a few vegetarians who basically live off soy; soy chicken, soy nuts, soy bacon, soy sausage, soy cheese, etc, etc. So much processed food, so little natural wholesome plant matter. A dangerous combination because as Diet-Blog uncovers, many of these soy-based meat alternatives are hardly health food, and, they certainly shouldn’t be the cornerstone of a so-called health diet:
Here is a list of a few other restaurants that offer some vegetarian choices you might want to be aware of:
  • Burger King Veggie Burger w/Cheese - 470 calories and 20 grams of fat. (A whopper junior has 410 calories & 24 grams of fat)
  • Chilis Bar and Grill - Baked Potato bowl of Soup - 440 calories and 33 grams of fat.
  • Uno’s Chicago Grill - Roasted Toasted Veggie Panini - 590 calories and 26 grams of fat.
  • Ninety-Nine Restaurant Veggie Burger - 910 calories and 41 grams of fat.
And last but not least:
  • Ruby Tuesday Veggie Burger- a whopping 943 calories and 52 grams of fat!
Now, I don’t think Dr. Fuhrman or Diet-Blog are being anti-soy—I’m certainly not, I drink soymilk and eat tofu—but, the important point to remember and Dr. Fuhrman would agree, there is no replacing a hearty amount of unaltered fruits and veggies.

Fortified Food Farce

Which would you prefer, a kick in the head or a punch in the nose? Yes, this is a very dumb question, but, it’s not all that different from this one posed by The New York Times. Reporter C. Claiborne Ray wants to know if eating fortified food is better than taking vitamins. Take a look:
“In some circumstances a pill might be preferable to an enriched food to make sure a person is getting enough of a specific nutrient,” Dr. Sheldon S. Hendler, co-editor of The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements said, “for example, for those on restricted diets, including calorie-restricted diets, for those with food allergies and sensitivities (like lactose intolerance) and for the elderly, who may not be able to eat enough of a particular food.” But eating a fortified food rather than taking a pill gives the added advantage of the food’s overall nutritional value, including valuable plant nutrients called phytonutrients, some of which may not even have been identified yet, as well as calories, fiber and water.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t buy the hype of fortified foods. If you’re eating plenty of wholesome nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, seeds, and legumes—you don’t need the fortified food! So, here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about Ray’s question:
Of course this article misses the whole point emphasized in modern nutritional research. That is when you attempt to meet you micronutrient requirements with supplements or fortified products you miss those thousands of phytonutrients that accompany produce that is naturally nutrient rich. So every fortified food you eat is increasing your risk of cancer by decreasing your dietary intake of a food that could have supplied those calories in a more nutrient complete package. Fortified foods = processed foods. Processed foods = obesity and cancer epidemic.
Plants are loaded with tons of health-promoting compounds. Take fruit for example, very strong medicine. From Eat to Live:
Researchers have discovered substances in fruit that have unique effects on preventing aging and deterioration of the brain.1 Some fruits, especially blueberries, are rich in anthocyanins and other compounds having anti-aging effects.2 Studies continue to provide evidence that more than any other food, fruit consumption is associated with lowered mortality from all cancers combined.2 Eating fruit is viable to your health, well-being, and long life.
Continue Reading...

Soy Compound and Bone Building

According to new research a compound in soy called genistein may help improve bone mineral density. Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay News is on it:
After two years, those taking the soy product had better bone mineral density than those taking placebo. "[Even] after one year, there was a clear difference in the women who got the genistein," said Steven Wilson, a biostatistician at National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, and a co-author of the study, published June 19 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The research was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education and the University of Messina, Italy.

Genistein, an isoflavone phytoestrogen, is found abundantly in soybean products. Experts who study it hope it can build bone without the adverse side effects -- such as increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers -- associated with hormone replacement therapy.

In the study, a team led by Dr. Francesco Squadrito of the Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Policlinico, Messina, randomly assigned 389 women who were past menopause (ages 49 to 67) to take either 54 milligrams of genistein daily for 24 months or a placebo pill.
For more on soy and how Dr. Fuhrman feels about soy-based foods, check out these previous posts:
Oh, and if you’re curious to see what a soybean harvest looks like, enjoy this video—it’s even set to music:

Pistachios for Your Ticker

Back in April, HealthDay News reported that pistachios may help take a bite out of cholesterol, and now, The Cardio Blog passes on information linking pistachio consumption to heart health. Here’s more:
Do you have high cholesterol? Apparently pistachios may help, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. This challenges the long-held notion that only a diet low in fat will help combat cholesterol, since pistachios have moderate amounts of fat. True, it's a healthy fat but it's a at nonetheless. If you're concerned about your cholesterol, however, it's recommended that you get between one and two handfuls a day -- no more than that and certainly not in ice cream form.
Not exactly new news to Dr. Fuhrman, he believes that both nuts and seeds are vital parts of the human diet. From Nuts and Seeds Are Excellent Foods:
Nuts and seeds are a natural part of the diet of homo-sapiens. They are perfectly adapted to the taste and ability of humans to pick, dry, store, and crack. No wonder study after study shows raw nuts and seeds not only lower cholesterol, but protect against common diseases of aging. I recommend almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, filberts, and walnuts; and sunflower, sesame, flax, and pumpkin seeds. These delicious natural foods are high in nutrients and healthful unsaturated fats.
I got to agree with Dr. Fuhrman on this one. Check out this sampling of nuts and seeds in my house right now:

Yup, there’s raw almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and ground flaxseed in there—yum!

Melon Might

Fresh watermelon and cantaloupe are hard to beat—unless of course they invent a watermelon-cantaloupe-avocado hybrid—The Diabetes Blog talks about just how wonderful watermelon and cantaloupe really are. Look:
While a cup of cantaloupe with only 54 calories provides more than half of your daily vitamin C requirement, a third of your vitamin A, and a healthy dose of potassium, it is your watermelon that helps reduce heart disease and certain cancer risks.

The watermelon's red flesh contains lycopene, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A cup is only 40 calories and eating it at room temperature supplies nearly a quarter of the 30 milligrams of daily lycopene suggested by current research.
This puppy would to agree. Achtung! Extreme cuteness warning issued now:

Dr. Fuhrman Talks Nutrition

In this video Dr. Fuhrman chats with health talk show host Steve Adubato. Take a look:

Pasta is Not Health Food!

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating for Health:

The standard American diet is centered around animal foods and processed wheat products, neither of which are ideal foods. Even worse, the typical modern eater consumes a tremendous amount of extracted vegetable oil. Many Americans add high-fat dressings or sauces to almost everything they consume that is not a high-fat food to start with. Yet those familiar with the scientific research on fats, including extracting plant fats such as olive oil and soy oil, know that fats increase our risk of cancer.1 Vegetable fats are processed foods that interfere with the normal of our immune system2,3 and that contribute to obesity and chronic disease.

When individuals change from an animal-food-based diet to a vegetarian diet, but then eat mostly processed foods such as low-fat pizza, tofu dogs and other health food store concoctions, refined cereals and grains, pasta, and bread as the primary source of their calories, the diet is still inadequate.

Grains, when consumed in their refined state, are comparatively poor sources of vitamins, especially antioxidants. They are also nearly devoid of essential fatty acids. The opposite can be said of green vegetables. Green vegetables and especially the leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, as well as thousands of other important nutrients that research scientists are beginning to identify as being essential for optimal health. These plant-based substances, called phytochemicals, support our immune system and protect us from cancer.
Continue Reading...

When Lettuce is Too Fresh

We all love fresh crisp lettuce, but, there is such a thing as “too straight from the garden.” Thanks to Savitri for sending this one over. Take a look:

Hey, you can't blame the little guy, after all, its not easy being green. Sing it Kermit:

Kick Breast Cancer the Veggie Way

Next time you hear someone say something like this, “Who the hell cares about the veggies anyway? You don't need them and there is absolutely nothing essential about them.” Show them this post fro m The Cancer Blog, Plant-Based Diets Key in breast Cancer Survival? Here's a bit:
A senior nutritionist with The Cancer Project even stated that "Women coping with breast cancer deserve to know that plant-based diets and regular exercise can spell the difference between life and death." If that's not a stark reminder of the importance of a plant-based diet for breast cancer patients, I am not sure what is.
When you talk nutrition with Dr. Fuhrman, one of the first things he brings up is cancer-prevention. He insists that if you want to avoid many of our nation’s chronic maladies? A vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet is the answer. Need proof? Here’s some stuff about veggies and cancer-prevention. From Diet, Chemotherapy, and the Truth: How to Win the War on Cancer:
Cruciferous Vegetables
While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds-- especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects. Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens.

These vegetables also contain indole-3- carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity. Important recent studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables and the compounds they contain can do the following:
  • Halt the growth of breast cancer cells1
  • Dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer2
  • Prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells and induce death of cancerous cells3
  • Inhibit the progression of lung cancer.4
As far as nutrient density goes, green vegetables are heavy-hitters. Check out the Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables.

(Oh, and the insane veggie-hating quote was from this post, Will America Ever Eat Better? Continue Reading...

Are You an Emotional Eater?

Diet-Blog passes along 8 Indicators of Emotional Eating. Here’s a few that may feel familiar:
2. You crave specific foods - generally not carrot sticks or steamed broccoli.
Cravings for specific, usually unhealthy foods is a sign of emotional eating. Often people like the rush they get from satisfying their cravings. That rush is fulfilling emotional hunger.

3. Your hunger feels urgent.
You need a particular food right away and you're willing to walk out of your way, or get in your car late at night, or raid your kid's Halloween candy to get it. Physical hunger, unless you haven't eaten for a very long time, is usually pretty patient. It will wait for food. Emotional hunger demands to be satisfied immediately.

4. Your hunger is often paired with an upsetting emotion.
If you backtrack a few hours or a few days you'll usually find an upsetting event and feeling that triggered the urge. Hunger that's connected to an upsetting emotion or situation is definitely emotional hunger. Physical hunger is not typically triggered by emotions.
Now this just smacks of toxic hunger and according to Dr. Fuhrman toxic hunger comes with the territory when you’re a food addict. He talks about it in Eat to Live:
Losing your ability to sense true hunger sets the foundation for obesity. By feeding kids so much calorie-rich food so frequently we have trained our children to disconnect eating from hunger. After enough time goes by continually consuming more calories than they need, they will feel discomfort when they do not have food constantly in their stomach. They must keep their digestive tract going all the time, because they become an overweight adult, they are true food addicts.

Symptoms of Toxic Hunger
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Abdominal and esophageal spasm
  • Fluttering and cramping
A few hours after eating, feeling weak, headachy, tired, mentally dull, and stomach cramping or discomfort is not true hunger! These symptoms of stomach cramping and fluttering, headaches and fatigue that begin when digestion is completed I call "toxic hunger" because these symptoms only occur in those who have been eating a toxic diet.

Cartoons on Food

ParentDish is annoyed about all the commercialism in the supermarket—quite frankly—I think its annoying too, but apparently if you have small children it’s doubly bad. I don’t have kids, but I feel her pain:
I'm taking my kids to the grocery with me this morning, which is mostly fine because they are old enough to help load the cart and to make some decisions about what they will get for snacks. At the same time, though, taking two kids to the grocery is an exercise in insanity because they are so won over by the packaging that it's hard to get them to focus on the actual food. Henry--who wouldn't eat a fruit roll up if it were the only food left in the world--once sobbed in the snack aisle because I wouldn't buy him Scooby Doo fruit roll ups. Sheesh.
Although, I think sticking pictures of Disney characters on fresh fruits and vegetables is a good idea, even if the food at Disney World is less than desirable—hey, it’s still a start!

Our Bodies Know How Much to Eat

What’s wrong with the way most Americans eat? Everything! We eat junk, we crave junk, we get sick, and then, we die. Here Dr. Fuhrman talks to Dr. Memhet Oz about the problems with the standard American diet. From Dr. Oz’s show "Second Opinion” on the Discovery Channel:

Miracle Expanding Jelly Pills

Here’s more proof that humans might not be the most intelligent creatures on earth. Are you desperate to lose weight? Why bother doing the logical thing—eating right and exercising. Instead, take some magic pills. Magic jelly pills that expand in our stomachs that is. Nicole Martinelli of Wired explains:

Italian scientists are testing a new diet pill that turns into a clear, gelatinous blob the size of a tennis ball that may help shrink waistlines by giving dieters a sense of satiety.

The pill, currently undergoing clinical trials at Rome's Policlinico Gemelli hospital, would be downed with two glasses of water at the first sign of a stomach rumble.

"The effect is like eating a nice plate of pasta," said Luigi Ambrosio, lead researcher on the project at the National Research Council's Institute for Composite and Biomedical Materials in Naples. "If you sit down for a meal with a stomach that already feels full, you'll end up eating less."

The unnamed pill is made from a cellulose compound of hydrogel, a material that's powdery when dry but plumps up to a cousin of Jell-O when wet. The gel can soak up to 1,000 times its weight. A gram in capsule form quickly balloons from the size of a spit wad to a ball that holds nearly a liter of liquid.

Now, if just hearing about it isn’t gross enough, check out this photo. Prepared to gag:

I can literally see Dr. Fuhrman rolling his eyes in disgust. But permit me to be serious for a second. This just highlights how blindly obsessed people are with losing weight. I’m sure there’ll be a line of people waiting to give these jelly pills a whirl, which is sad because as Dr. Fuhrman explains magic pills just aren’t the answer. From Eat to Live:

Don't be conned by diet pills, magic in a bottle, or fat absorbers. Anything really effective is not safe, and those that are safe are not effective. To deal with the real problem, you must make real changes.

Now, when you get serious and switch to a nutrient-dense health-promoting diet, then you’ll really start to see results. More from Eat to Live:

My observations over the years have convinced me that eating healthfully makes you drop unwanted pounds efficiently. It’s as if the body wants to get rid of unhealthy tissue quickly. I have seen this happen time and time again. Eating the exact same diet, many patients drop weight quickly and easily and then automatically stop losing when they reach an ideal weight. Time and time again, I have see individuals who were not overweight nonetheless lose weigh after the switch. In a few months, however, they gravitated back to their former weight as their health improved. It is as if the body wanted to exchange unhealthy issue for healthy tissue.

(Via Diet-Blog)

A Bowl Full of Cherries

The Cardio Blog relays some research linking consumption of sour cherries to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Take a look:
For me, freshly-picked cherries are synonymous with summer. Eating those sweet morsels of goodness on a hot summer's day is about as perfect as it gets. If you love cherries as much as me, there's good news -- They're great for you, especially your heart. There's a downside to this news though -- Sour cherries are better for you than those of the sweet variety. Tart cherries are associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, more so than sweet cherries like Bing cherries. The reason that tart cherries are more beneficial than sweet ones if that tart cherries have more antioxidants, and we all know antioxidants are great for whatever ails you.
I like the sound of that! Feast your eyes on my big bowl of cherries. And yes, they are sour—they don’t like having their picture taken:

The only bad thing here—other than my creepy web cam picture—would be that cherries are on the higher end of pesticide contamination risk. From Reduce Your Pesticide Exposure By 90%:

The EU Clarifies "Organic"

After many months of bickering the European Union has finally hammered down their labeling system for organic food. Jeremy Smith of Reuters talks about:
Farmers who sell produce containing at least 95 percent organic ingredients will use a special EU logo, along with a label to indicate the product's origin. Below that, there will be labeling of the organic ingredients present.

"This is an excellent agreement which will help consumers to recognize organic products throughout the EU more easily and give them assurances of precisely what they are buying," EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said.

The labels can be accompanied by national and private logos, at the discretion of individual EU countries. Mass catering operations are excluded from the new rules although countries can choose to apply national rules if they wish.

Now, EU organic farmers have difficulty selling organic food in different EU countries as there is a patchwork of national and private logos that can be costly and complicated to obtain.

At present, the EU has two labeling categories: a "gold standard" where organic ingredients comprise at least 95 percent of the final product, and "emphasized labeling" where there is at least 70 percent organic material.
Hold on, shouldn’t organic food be 100% organic? How can something be organic, if it’s not totally organic? I’m confused. Okay, let’s ask the USDA for help. Oh wait. They let food be labeled as organic even if it includes non-organic ingredients. Welcome to bizzaro land!

Dandelion Greens

In light of the Sopranos finale, I’m going to let you in on an ancient Italian secret. Dandelion greens. Yes, you can actually eat those pesky weeds that ruin your lawn. And lately, I’ve been eating a lot dandelions. No not the ones in my yard, big hearty ones from farmers market. Here’s what they look like:

I grew up eating dandelions; raw or cooked. Personally, I have vivid memories of my moo-moo clad grandmother harvesting greens from her garden with a cheese knife, while my grandfather used a slingshot to deter crows from eating his figs—yes, “I’m old country” Italian.

Now, I was curious to know how dandelions snacked up nutrient-wise. So I asked Linda Popescu one of the Registered Dieticians that works in Dr. Fuhrman’s office. Here’s what she had to say about dandelions:
Dandelions don't rate up there with kale, watercress and mustard greens because they are not cruciferous. They are in the same range as broccoli and romaine lettuce which is very good compared to most other foods.

I grew up in Newark and can remember the little old Italian ladies picking dandelion greens in the park every spring.
See, I’m not the only one! Oh. And, in the spirit of Followhealthlife’s animals eating fruits and veggies saga, here is a bunny rabbit gobbling up some dandelions. Enjoy:

UPDATE: A Chile Pepper Investigation

Susan Bowerman of The Los Angeles Times examines the supposed power of the Chile pepper:
For many of us, the heat of the pepper is what makes it such a palate pleaser. But peppers also have a lot going for them nutritionally — they are good sources of vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid, magnesium and potassium. Peppers and capsaicin also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which might reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and other chronic diseases that occur with age.

Chile-laden meals have been shown to boost energy expenditure in several human trials. In one study, for instance, 10 grams of dried hot pepper added to breakfast increased energy expenditure by 23% immediately after the meal and for more than two hours afterward.
UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman had some interesting thoughts on this article, check it out:
Healthy foods do not give you sudden energy; you have energy because you eat healthfully, exercise appropriately and get sufficient sleep. The gain of rapid energy from a food is called stimulation and that is an accurate indication that the substance was harmful to your health. Healthful substances do not stimulate, only toxic substances do. It needs to be mentioned as well that too much very hot foods are linked to higher rates of stomach cancer. To conclude, hot spices should be used sparingly and should not be considered health foods.

The Gourd of the Rings

“The bourdon is mine!” No, the bourdon is yours. Try sitting through this fruit and vegetable adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Don’t worry. It’s not three hours long:

Diet Stress!

What! Stress? NO! No stress here. WHY DO YOU SAY THAT? That was me. Yeah, I was pretty on-edge when I first started my vegetable-based lifestyle. And apparently I’m not alone. New research concludes that changing your diet can bring about added stress. Dr. Fuhrman pulled this article from Family Practice News, have a look:
Gimme My Ice Cream NOW
A report in a recent issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry finds that changing one's usual diet brings on stress—at least in mice. (Hopefully these weren't the same ones the folks in Bristol almost drowned.) Tracey L. Bale, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and colleagues found that taking the mice off a high-fat or high-carbohydrate diet induced anxiety and stress, as measured by established norms of mouse behavior. “These results strongly support the hypothesis that an elevated emotional state produced after preferred-diet reduction provides sufficient drive to obtain a more preferred food in the face of [adverse] conditions, despite availability of alternative calories in the safer environment,” the dieting authors concluded moments before angrily overturning their lab's 400-pound vending machine to free a snagged bag of Fritos.
Now, hopefully you won’t endure extra stress when you start Eating to Live, but, you could become a real rootin’ tootin’ cowpoke—emphasis on the “tootin’.” This post will better explain the “adjustment period” of a nutrient-dense diet. From Healthy Diet: Premium Gas:
During this temporary adjustment period that usually lasts less than a week, and rarely more than two weeks, you might feel fatigue, headaches, gassy, or other mild symptoms as your body withdraws from your prior toxic eating habits. For example, stopping dangerous but stimulating foods, including caffeine, causes temporary fatigue and headaches.

Soy Nuts and Blood Pressure

New research claims eating soy nuts can help lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times investigates:
For four weeks, 60 women, average age 53, followed a low-cholesterol diet that provided 30 percent energy from fat, 15 percent from protein and 55 percent from carbohydrates. Then the researchers divided them into two groups for an eight-week test.

The first group followed the same diet without soy. The second ate a half-cup a day of soy nuts while reducing protein intake from other sources. When hypertensive women were on the soy diet, they averaged a 9.9 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number in the reading) and a 6.8 percent decrease in diastolic pressure. Those with normal blood pressure also benefited from the soy diet, reducing systolic and diastolic readings by 5.2 percent and 2.9 percent respectively.
Soy is always an interesting topic of conversation. Here are a few posts about it:

Live like a Dog, Eat like a Monkey

I don’t think you’ll see this dog swinging through the trees anytime soon, but, he sure likes bananas. Check it out:

A Cruciferous Chorus

Don’t you wish you had your very own choir of singing vegetables? Take a look:

Healthy Eating, What If?

What if this country stopped shelling out billions of dollars to invent new drugs to treat disease, and instead, we put some of that money towards educating people how to eat healthier? Vicki Blankenship of The Cancer Blog is in a huff about this very same idea. Check it out:
What if only a part of the millions and millions of dollars poured into research on medicines, was put to use in educating the public on the right choices of foods and nutrition to put into our bodies to keep them healthy and to learn how to relax and quit putting so many demands on ourselves. What if more funding went into organic farming instead of mass, quick produced, with fertilizers and steroids for faster turn around on the products. Personally I have had so many chemicals blasted into my body from chemo and radiation, and medicines for this and medicines for that, I am about to think that all of that is only hurting my body more. Are we brain washed to believe that we have to have a pill for everything…

…But the one thing that I want to emphasize in this blog right now, is to STOP EATING processed and canned foods. It may be quicker to heat up a can of food or something already processed and pre-made for us, but it is not healthier. Eating fresh organic vegetables and home made prepared foods without chemical preservatives and other additives is the way to go to start getting some of those toxins out of our bodies. If you can't find fresh in something, because seasons play a big part in our fresh vegetable selections, purchase frozen. Also purchase dried beans or other dried items and cook them instead of buying canned ones. They are healthier than canned. Eating raw vegetables or slightly steamed vegetables is more healthy because the vitamins and nutrients do not cook out of the food.

Behold the Orange...Cauliflower

According to Rosie Mestel of The Los Angeles Times scientists have unlocked the secret behind the orange in orange cauliflower. Check it out:
The gene enables the cauliflower to build up higher stores of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A that gives carrots their distinctive hue. (Scientists have already figured out a way to engineer rice to be rich in beta-carotene, but that method's more cumbersome, involving several genes, and doesn't work in a lot of plants.) The original mutant orange cauliflower was discovered three decades ago in a farmer's field, according to a news release describing the finding, which was reported in the journal Plant Cell (which won't let you read all about it unless you pay, bah, humbug).
Okay, I’ve heard of purple cauliflower, but never orange. Here’s what one looks like:

And if you’re hungry more. Check out this article from Cornell University: Orange Cauliflower Developed at Cornell's Experiment Station is High in Vitamin A.

Lizard Loves Lettuce

This bearded dragon really enjoys being hand fed some nutrient-rich lettuce. See for yourself:

Omega-3s and Blood Pressure

Do you eat flax seed? I do. I blend ground flax seed into salad dressings, I pile it on oatmeal, and it also goes great in smoothies—and why do I do it? Omega-3s! According to Dr. Fuhrman, Omega-3s are a very-very important part of the human diet. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
The brain is mostly made of fat. For the brain cells to maintain their cell membrane fluidity and to properly recognize chemical messengers they must have the right ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats built into their structure. Too little omega-3 fats and too much saturated fat and trans fat could stiffen the fatty acid membranes and interfere with proper cellular communication. Raw nuts and seeds supply children with unpolluted omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a protective package rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals. Though fish is a rich source of omega-3 fat and DHA, fish fats and other animal fats are nutrient-poor and often contaminated with pollution, pesticides, hormones, and drugs. Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are examples of great brain food that can maximize human potential. Berries and vegetables are also rich in brain-favorable nutrients. The same foods that provide powerful protective effects against cancer maximize our children’s brain development.
Okay, need more proof that Omega-3s are nutritional heavyweights? Take a gander at this report from HealthDay News. A new study has determined Omega-3 fatty acids may lower blood pressure. Robert Preidt explains:
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- found in certain fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils -- may help lower blood pressure.

That's the conclusion of a study that examined data from 4,680 people in China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States…

…"Foods with omega-3 PFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) had more of an effect in people who were not already taking medication and had not yet developed high blood pressure," study lead author Dr. Hirotsugu Ueshima, professor and chairman of the department of health science at Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, said in a prepared statement.
For more on Omega-3s—and flaxseed—check out these previous posts:

Healthy Snacks and Calorie Content

Cat + Carrots = Love

The music is playing, the mood is set, romance is in the air, and this cat is ready to show these carrots some love—oh baby! Peep this tomcat:

This kitty LOVES some phytonutrients.

The Fruit-Man Passes

Do you know who William F. Whitman Jr. is? Honestly, until today I had no idea either. According to The New York Times he was responsible for popularizing many exotic fruits in the United States, but sadly, he has died at the ripe-old age of 92—no pun intended. David Karp reports:
Among rare-fruit devotees, Bill Whitman, as he was known, was hailed as the only person to have coaxed a mangosteen tree into bearing fruit outdoors in the continental United States. Native to Southeast Asia, mangosteen is notoriously finicky and cold-sensitive.

That did not deter Mr. Whitman, whose garden is propitiously situated between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, minimizing the danger of catastrophic freezes. (Mangosteen is the most prominent of the exotic “superfruits” like goji and noni, which are made into high-priced beverages from imported purées.)

Mr. Whitman managed to cultivate other fastidiously tropical species like rambutan and langsat, and he was recognized as the first in the United States to popularize miracle fruit, a berry that tricks the palate into perceiving sour tastes as sweet.

In pursuit of rare fruit, “Bill was a monomaniac,” said Stephen S. Brady, his doctor and friend, who traveled with him. “He’d hear about a fruit tree, and pursue it like a pit bull to the ends of the earth.”

Nutrient-Rich Orangutan

This man of the forest chows down on some nutrient-rich greens. Look: