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Top 5 things our plant-based health study taught this M.D.

Posted by Jenn on March 7, 2011


One truly amazing thing about life is that we have the opportunity to continuously learn new things. Learning new things rocks!  And, while we were pretty sure what the outcomes would be, this was no exception.

We are still 9 days away from the official end of the plant-based health study and approximately 12-14 days from having the final results available to us and published.  That being said, while contemplating the parameters for our next study and reviewing reader submitted ideas on things they would like to see us measure in the future, I got to thinking about all the amazing things that I’ve learned so far in this one.

Here are the top 5!


1. Psoriasis

There are a lot of  anecdotal stories out there on how a plant-based diet can be beneficial in the treatment of medical conditions and disease other than heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and certain cancers.  There is also some scientific research to back up those ascertations but much more needs to be done before it can be said with a great degree of certainty that this is indeed the case.

That being said, I have never seen it first hand.  Until now! Amber, one of the study participants, has struggled with psoriasis for quite some time – experiencing a number of patches on both her arms and legs.  She has tried a number of different things to keep this chronic autoimmune condition at bay, but while some treatments have helped, none have been close to a cure.

After 30 days on a diet completely free of meat and dairy products, Amber has experienced almost 100% resolution of her patches! I’ve seen it first hand and I couldn’t be more happy for her.  It’s one thing to read or hear about these types of things but it’s quite another to see it first-hand.

2. Probiotics

It’s important not to make blanket statements about medicines/treatments especially when there isn’t any substantial clinical evidence or experience to back it up.  When it comes to probiotics there is data out there but none directly pertaining to any benefits they may or may not have when someone is transitioning to  plant-based diet.

As in the situation above, I have heard anecdotal accounts of probiotics being helpful but not much otherwise.  During the course of our study several of the participants had some gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort as a result of moving to a plant-based diet.

Note:  This is common and it is apart of the natural detoxification process.

The participants who experienced the GI upset took probiotics to help with these symptoms.  Everyone who used them said they helped.  The degree to which they helped varied from substantial to adequate.  Thus, I would say I now know that probiotics can be a useful consideration in those experiencing GI issues as the result of a switch from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a plant-based one.

3. Oil, oil, oil…

While everyone in the plant-based community agrees on the exclusion of meat and dairy products from our diet for prevention and reversal of disease, not everyone agrees on whether or not oils and highly saturated fat laden foods (i.e. nuts & avocados) should be omitted as well.

In fact, two of the foremost thought leaders seem to diverge on this as well: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Dean Ornish. Esselstyn’s mantra  is “moderation kills” and he advocates a plant-based diet that excludes oils, nuts, etc even if they are technically “plant-based”.

Ornish, on the other hand, is much less strict on this issue and allows for their inclusion, although he still emphasizes a diet as low in saturated fat as possible (less than 10% of daily caloric intake).  That doesn’t exactly allow for much oil anyway being that olive oil for example has approximately 120 calories per tablespoon with 2 grams (or 14%) coming from saturated fat, 78% from monounsaturated fat and 8% for polyunsaturated fat. No matter how you looks at it, olive oil is 120 calories of pure fat per tablespoon.

Without delving into the argument of good fats vs. bad fats, etc. and the reason behind why Esselstyn has adopted this stringent mantra and Ornish has not, I wasn’t 100% sure of where I stood on the whole debate other than the obvious observation that less fat is better.

I now can say that this study (in addition to a few other poignant reasons I’ll discuss in an upcoming post) has resulted in me landing on Esselstyn’s side of the fence. The reason is due to the increased triglyceride levels in some of the participants despite the reductions in their total and LDL cholesterol.  I think it is likely that these triglyceride increases seen in some of the participants are the result of increased consumption of oils, nuts and other highly saturated fat laden foods.

Additionally, when first adjusting to the switch to a plant-based diet many opt for pre-packaged processed vegan foods such as vegan cheese, veganaise, and prepared vegan meals which are extremely high in saturated fat.  Further, when eating out at mainstream restaurants the vegetarian and vegan options (which tend to be few) are often cooked in lots of oil to enhance taste. This is done to ensure that these menu items are just as tasty as there SAD counterparts.

It is my expectation that once acclimated more fully to plant-based nutrition people will end up cooking more at home and becoming more astute regarding their choices and their triglyceride levels will eventually decrease as well.

How about this for a visual: Animal fat is a solid at room temperature whereas plant is liquid.  Imagine how well that solid stuff fares in your GI tract.

4. Sugar, sugar, sugar.  Pre-diabetes, and Hemoglobin A1Cs

I love sweet things!  Who doesn’t?  We all know we should do our best to limit our consumption of these items and some of us do better than others.  If you are vegan, most likely you already limit if not exclude the consumption of sugar because the majority of it is processed with animal bone char (charcoal made from animal bones). – –actually the explanation is much more convoluted than this, but this works for our purpose here.

The participants in our study were not restricted with regard to sugar consumption.  The aim of this study was to look at the benefits of a plant-based diet on a macro level and not get lost in the details.  Please note I am not discounting the importance of these details, we simply chose not to focus on these for the sake of study compliance.

The reason this is important is because of the increasing prevalence of  “pre-diabetes” here in the U.S. and the obvious role that large amounts of sugar found in the SAD contribute to this trend. Prior to our study beginning, 4 of the 7 participants had Hemoglobin A1C values that would classify them as pre-diabetic (>5.7).  After only 30 days all 4 of the participants lowered this value by .4!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Plant-based Health Study | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Vegan on the silver screen

Posted by Jenn on March 3, 2011


Vegan on the silver screen. @ CNN

Posted in Arthritis, Cancer Prevention, Diabetes, Heart Disease, In the Media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Success story of the week: Alicia

Posted by Jenn on February 21, 2011


In Alicia’s words:

Hi, my name is Alicia and in 2008, when I hit my high weight of 299 lbs, my dad Rick, who I never knew, died from diabetes.  He lost both legs, went blind, and finally died of kidney failure. He was 47. Due to my weight my mom always worried about me getting diabetes which runs on both sides of the family. Then when she found out about Rick she was even more concerned, and suddenly so was I.

My cholesterol was high, my sugar was hovering right around ‘dangerously close to becoming diabetic’ and then I quickly dropped about 40 lbs since fear is an absolutely fabulous motivator, but motivation is fleeting. In July of 2009 I went veggie. I wasn’t eating very healthy stuff, boxed veggie burgers and too much pasta and deep-fried veggies. Turns out it’s just as easy to be a fat vegetarian as a fat meat-eater. I spent most of 2010 regaining 28 of the 40 lbs I had lost.

In October of 2010 I realized that although I’ve been in therapy most of my life and I’ve definitely suffered from disordered eating at both ends of the spectrum I had never once discussed food issues in therapy. I realized I was an emotional eater, my health was suffering, I was 30 years old and as much as I wanted to bury that thought of Rick dying so young, it kept popping up that I needed to do something.

Things happened pretty quickly after that. I got sick of the guilt and shame that came with binging at the Chinese buffet on all manner of deep-fried and overly sweet saucy veggie foods. I decided to discuss my disordered eating in therapy. I started back on plan on October 19th. I set a weight loss goal of 32 lbs lost in the first 4 months. By November I was eating a 99% whole foods diet and had stumbled on a blog about the deception of the terms ‘cage free eggs’ and the dairy industry’s part in raising veal.  So in November I went vegan.  Although my main motivating factor in eating a vegan diet is health, it was these few points that drove me from veggie to vegan.

It’s been amazing since I love to cook and it’s forced me to become seriously adventurous in the kitchen. Let’s be honest, no one wants to live on salad and rice packets or veggie burgers forever. I try not to eat things that come in a box with weird ingredients that I can’t pronounce. I love sweet potato spinach curry and I have come up with an amazing alfredo recipe as well (recipe is on my blog).

I’m having a good time learning to cook things in new ways.  People that I cook for are always so shocked that vegan food is delicious, this boggles my mind. I read my grocery list off to my mom once and she said “But what can you make out of that stuff?” “That stuff” she was referring to was mainly veggies, whole grains and beans. Really, this is what it has come to? As a society we have no clue what to do with real food?  Sadness.  Anyhow, I’m having a great time and eating amazing food that tastes great without making me feel miserable and guilty and worst of all, unhealthy.

I reached my first 4 month goal 3.5 weeks early, so I readjusted it from a 32 lb loss to a 37 lb loss. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Diabetes, Success Stories, Weight Loss, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

6 compelling reasons to AVOID dairy products

Posted by Jenn on February 20, 2011


In an article for the Huffington Post Dr. Mark Hyman gives you 6 reasons, with the scientific evidence to back it up, why you shouldn’t eat dairy products.  The following is an excerpt from that article which is also available in its entirety (as well as in a video format) at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/dairy-free-dairy-6-reason_b_558876.html


The Truth about Dairy

According to Dr. Willett, who has done many studies and reviewed the research on this topic, there are many reasons to pass up milk, including:

1. Milk doesn’t reduce fractures.(i) Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!

2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought.(ii) Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent.(iii) Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) — a known cancer promoter.

5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn’t. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.(iv)

6. Not everyone can stomach dairy.(v) About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance.

Based on such findings, Dr. Willet has come to some important conclusions:

• Everybody needs calcium — but probably not as much as our government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) and calcium from diet, including greens and beans is better utilized by the body with less risk than calcium supplements.

• Calcium probably doesn’t prevent broken bones. Few people in this country are likely to reduce their fracture risk by getting more calcium.

• Men may not want to take calcium supplements. Supplements of calcium and vitamin D may be reasonable for women.

• Dairy may be unhealthy. Advocating dairy consumption may have negative effects on health.

If all that isn’t enough to swear you off milk, there are a few other scientific findings worth noting.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently asked the UDSA to look into the scientific basis of the claims made in the “milk mustache” ads. Their panel of scientists stated the truth clearly:

• Milk doesn’t benefit sports performance.

• There’s no evidence that dairy is good for your bones or prevents osteoporosis — in fact, the animal protein it contains may help cause bone loss!

• Dairy is linked to prostate cancer. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Calcium, Dairy, Diabetes, In the Media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Success Story of the Week: Anastasia

Posted by Jenn on February 5, 2011


My name is Anastasia I. D. Brown, also known as The Veganbetic.  Here’s my story: In 2007, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes three days after my forty-fifth birthday.  I like to say the warranty ran out. Of course, I knew a little about the disease because I have high blood pressure and hereditary high cholesterol, and for years I’d heard my doctors say that I was heading for trouble because of my lifestyle. I didn’t listen, natch.  I’ve never liked being told what to do.  Who does?

So, all of a sudden (or so it seemed to me), I had this disease, and—hey, presto!—playtime was over. I was a champion eater in my past.  One pound of pasta…I could eat that for dinner with no difficulty.  A pint of Ben and Jerry’s for dessert was easy. And I loved eating like that.  I absolutely adored it. And it was now kaput.

The first thing I learned about managing diabetes is that doing so is a discipline. Anyone here like discipline? Anyone? Bueller? Naaah, didn’t think so. The second thing I learned about diabetes is that the road to managing diabetes through discipline is the same as the road to hell: it’s paved with good intentions. So I bought the books, joined the websites, got my little medical tag to wear around my neck.  But soon I’d backslide, get rebellious, neglect to take my meds, and would fling myself back into the food orgy.  Then the guilt would smack me in the head, I’d resolve to take better care of myself, and for a few months, I’d be the model diabetic patient.  But then the cycle would start-up again.

Here’s the funny thing:  I am a Zen Buddhist.  No, that’s not intrinsically funny—wait; yeah, it is.  Anyway, my particular Zen Buddhist gig consists of pretty much one thing.  It’s called shikantaza, and basically what it means is to Just.  Freakin’.  Sit. And it’s boring.  Unless you do shikantaza, you have no idea just how horrifically boring it really is.  And it’s uncomfortable, you itch, you have to go to the can, your nose runs, and it just all around sucks at times.  Shikantaza makes doing your taxes look entertaining (I was going to write that it makes going to the Department of Motor Vehicles look entertaining, but then I remembered that visiting the DMV is actually a total scream). But if I could sit for a half hour a day and sometimes longer as part of a discipline which really seems to have no point at all whatsoever (that’s right!  No point, kids!), then why the hell couldn’t I take better care of myself as part of a discipline that has some defined goals—things like heading off lovely little issues such as neuropathy, limb amputation, renal failure, and more?

That’s when I realized that diabetes management is not just a discipline, just as shikantaza is not just a discipline.  It’s a practice.  What’s more, it’s a practice that takes practice.  You have to—as RuPaul says—work it, beeotch.

**** So, for the last three and a half years, I’ve been practicing.  And I’ve been getting better at this diabetes thing. About a year ago, I got me some H1N1 and was very sick.  I hadn’t been taking particularly good care of myself at the time, and swine flu made my Type II go to the outer limits.  Diabetics, prepare to faint: my HbA1c was 14.

Yes.  14!

After two months’ recovery (and because I was too sick to eat everything I could get my hands on), my HbA1c dropped to 12.  My poor doctor was almost in hysterics.  I promised him I’d take care of myself. It was about this time that I went to my local Borders and bought a book called Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program For Reversing Diabetes.  Dr. Barnard advocates a vegan diet in this program.  I read the book and was inspired.  And to inspire a wiseass cynic like me takes a lot. I had toyed with vegetarianism and veganism in my past, switching between both from time to time, but always returning to an omnivorous diet.  I had also been a natural foods chef for a number of years, so I was always preparing food for people who didn’t eat meat or any kind of animal products.  To me, going permanently vegan would also take discipline and be a discipline…but, first, it would be a practice that took practice. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Diabetes, Foods, Success Stories, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

How does a plant-based diet prevent disease? A short lesson

Posted by Jenn on January 31, 2011


There is an ever-growing mountain of evidence substantiating the numerous health benefits that a plant-based diet provides.

This colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of red blood cells in an artery shows a layer of endothelial cells (beige) surrounded by muscle (pink). by: Steve Gschmeissner / Photo Researchers Inc.

Peer-reviewed medical paper after peer-reviewed medical paper published in the most well-respected of journals have shown that a plant-based diet free of meat and dairy products is the single most powerful tool we have at our disposal to prevent and fight disease.

Not only can heart disease and diabetes be prevented but the disease progression can be stopped and reversed. If that wasn’t enough there is a multitude of research showing how the consumption of a plant-based diet’s can prevent cancer, dramatically reduce cancer recurrence rates, reduce cognitive impairment as we age (Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia) and reduce osteoporosis in addition to a myriad of others. This being the case, how exactly does something as seemingly simple and low-tech as one’s diet manage to do these things?

The short answer is this: via a gas called nitric oxide which is produced by our endothelial cells.  The problem with this very brief explanation is that most people have never heard of nitric oxide, much less endothelial cells. Consequently, that probably isn’t going to help most people understand how the very important the daily decision to eat a plant-based diet is able to accomplish such incredible feats.

What the heck are endothelial cells? and what the heck is Nitric Oxide (NO)? and how do they accomplish the mammoth task of keeping us healthy?

Endothelial cells are the thin single-layer of cells that line the interior surface of all blood vessels.  They are the cells that come in direct contact with blood flowing through our cardiovascular system.  A “healthy” endothelium can be best described as having like a Teflon coating on the vessels’ inner walls; this non-sticky quality enhancing the flow of blood.  An “unhealthy” endothelium, by contrast, acts like Velcro, grabbing white blood cells, platelets and cholesterol and packing them against the inner wall of the blood vessels narrowing them = causing the vessels to thicken over time, thereby inhibiting the flow of blood. This accumulation of “material” leads to the formation of  what are called atherosclerotic “plaques”.

healthy vs unhealthy endothelium

A healthy endothelium is not being covered by any plaque and therefore has the ability to release many beneficial substances into the blood stream.  An unhealthy endothelium  eventually narrows and thickens and resultantly loses flexibility.  The vessels can no longer expand as they should when the heart pumps blood through them. Pumping blood into stiff arteries containing plaque increases resistance to blood flow causing the heart to work harder. Your blood pressure must increase to pump the same volume of blood through these vessels.

That being said, what then determines the overall health of our endothelial cells that make up our endothelium? In other words what makes our endothelium non-stick or sticky?

That is where Nitric Oxide (NO) comes in. Remember, a healthy endothelium is able to release many beneficial substances into our blood stream.  (Note: we are born with a very healthy endothelium which means until we create an environment in which plaques are created, our vessels are healthy, slick and without plaque)  Nitric oxide is one of these substances.  Nitric oxide has a number of important functions.  One of its primary functions according to Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine,

“…is to help keep the arteries and veins free of the plaque that causes stroke and to maintain normal blood pressure by relaxing arteries, thereby regulating the rate of blood flow and preventing coronaries (heart attacks)”.

He goes on to explain that,

“Nitric oxide is the body’s natural cardiovascular wonder drug”.

NO accomplishes this by controlling muscle tone of the blood vessels which directly impacts blood pressure control, inhibiting the aggregation of platelets and other particulate such as cholesterol and white blood cells.

Other functions worthy of note include: facilitation of proper kidney function, aiding in the transmission of messages between nerve cells, helping the immune system fight  viral, bacterial and parasitic infections as well as tumors, peristalsis, regulating inflammation, lowering of cholesterol levels and penile erection. Let’s discuss one of these functions in more detail to illustrate.

For example, erection of the penis during sexual excitation is mediated by NO release from the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels of the penis.  The NO release from the endothelial cells cause the blood to pool in the adjacent blood sinuses producing an erection.  Thus, if NO cannot be produced (or produced in sufficient amounts) as the result of a damaged endothelium, then an erection cannot occur. This is why difficulty getting or maintaining an erection is indicative of impending or active heart disease (= ample accumulation of plaque).  If you are currently experiencing impotence, it would be a very good idea to see your doctor such that he or she can discern the cause.

How a poor diet results in poor erections

Causes of endothelial damage  and resultant plaque formation:

  • Smoking – it decreases good cholesterol (HDL) and increases bad cholesterol (LDL) that damages your endothelial cells. Further, nicotine directly damages endothelial cells and the carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke damages the endothelium too.
  • A high fat, high cholesterol diet (particularly animal fat from meat and dairy products; plants do NOT have cholesterol) – LDL directly damages endothelial cells.
  • A diet low in fiber content (animal products do NOT contain any fiber) – High fiber foods absorb bile salts that your body uses in digestion.  Your liver manufactures bile from cholesterol.  Thus, high fiber foods are a natural way to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
  • Diabetes – When blood sugars are beyond the normal range it causes oxidative stress to the endothelial cells resulting in damage to them.
  • Being overweight or obese – Fat cells store vitamin D and vitamin D inhibits vessel calcification (plaques eventually get harder as a result of calcification). Thus, losing weight or being at a healthy weight keeps the vitamin D in your system allowing for utilization thereby preventing plaque calcification. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer Prevention, Cholesterol, Dementia, Depression, Diabetes, Heart Disease, In the Media, Inflammation, Stroke, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Merits Of A Plant-Based Diet, Just The Facts Please

Posted by Jenn on December 28, 2010


Author: mark brohl

When it comes to a healthy diet many folks with whom I have spoken attempt to deny plain facts and plain statistics by citing one example that they hope will refute the obvious truth.

The vast majority of evidence clearly shows that a plant-based diet heals, while an animal- based diet leads to cancer and heart disease among other unfortunate health issues.

Therefore if you are having an intelligent discussion about health matters and you become overwhelmed by the facts please know that the facts do not change nor do they need adjusting just because you cite the case of your dear great grandmother as an example of one who ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, bologna for lunch, meat loaf for dinner, and smoked 2 packs of regular Camels every day and still lived to be ninety two.  This is the exception and certainly not the rule and should not be taken too seriously as a statistic since it would be difficult to find a significant amount of other individuals who could boast the same.  It should also be noted that just existing for ninety two years when in reality the last thirty of them were spent in pain racking illness does not really make a person a poster child for the merits of bacon and cigarettes.

Actually medical evidence is clear, consistent and astonishingly one sided.  Vegetarians are far less likely to suffer from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis.  They are also far less prone to obesity.

The largest study of its kind ever conducted was the China-Oxford-Cornell Study which revealed that a typical meat eater would be over fifteen times more likely to die from heart disease, and that women were five times more likely to suffer from breast cancer than folks who obtained no more than five percent of their protein requirements from eating animals and their by-products. This is just one study, and as previously stated the evidence is just ridiculously one sided in favor of refraining from animal foods and adhering to a plant-based diet.

These facts are not meant to infer that vegetarians cannot practice unhealthy eating and lifestyle choices, because they certainly can.  If one refrains from eating meat but instead opts for junk food and soda pop, never exercises, and does not drink enough water or get enough sleep such a person should not imagine that not eating meat is going to save his or her health.  Even if he or she were to enjoy excellent health and vitality throughout a long life this would not be a normal outcome to such a deficient lifestyle or health program.

The bottom line is that if you are a meat eater your chances of becoming a cancer, heart disease, or diabetes statistic raises exponentially, while also being far more likely to suffer osteoporosis and other diseases than those who refrain from eating animal foods.  And of course you have a far greater chance of becoming obese also.  Whether you stick your head in the sand, pull the covers over your head, or put your hands over your ears and close your eyes, it will not change the fact that your lifestyle and eating habits are killing you.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/nutrition-articles/the-merits-of-a-plant-based-diet-just-the-facts-please-3748413.html

About the Author

I am passionate about health issues, and the state of the health of our wonderful America. I believe the American diet is literally killing us and that a steady flow of money and perks from the meat, egg, and dairy industries to the U.S. government is the reason we have had a long sustained brainwashing campaign that has precipitated the shift from a predominantly plant-based diet to an animal-based diet. The result has been an unprecedented increase in heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancers of all varieties. I believe Americans are suffering from a lack of truthful information concerning our diets. I enjoy writing motivational articles that will help to correct the problem regarding this lack of information and also examine the prevailing misinformation in the light of truth.

Healthy Vegetarian Choices For Life
Dedicated to the advancement of informed choices that will benefit our health, our environment, and our animal friends.
Please visit my website at http://www.ourhealthforlife.com and look around awhile. I would very much appreciate comments concerning your reaction to what I have written as well as any input that might aid me in the task of making my site more helpful. I thank you in advance for your consideration.

Posted in Diabetes, Heart Disease, In the Media, Research/Data, Stroke | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Improvements in Nutrition and Lifestyle Increase Telomerase Activity

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Image via Wikipedia

(Source: Longevity Medicine Review; lmreview.com; by Lara Pizzorno, MDiv, MA, LMT)
Introduction

Telomeres, the protective DNA–protein complexes at the end of chromosomes, are required for DNA replication and to protect chromosomes from nuclease degradation, end-to-end fusion, and the initiation of cellular senescence. Since telomeres shorten with each cell division, telomere length is a key indicator of mitotic cell aging and viability.

Telomere length has emerged as a prognostic indicator of disease risk, progression, and premature mortality in humans. Shortened telomeres are a precursor to the initiation of many types of cancer and are predictive of increased risk of bladder, head and neck, lung and renal-cell cancers; poor clinical outcomes in breast and colorectal cancer; recurrence of prostate cancer in patients undergoing radical prostatectomy; and decreased survival in patients with coronary heart disease and infectious disease1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.

However, even cells with shortened telomeres can remain genetically stable if the enzyme telomerase, which adds telomeric repeat sequences to the chromosomal DNA ends preserving telomere length and healthy cell function, is fully operational.1 9 10

The converse is also true. Decreased telomerase activity alone has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, independent of chronological age. In a study involving healthy women, telomerase activity, but not telomere length, in immune cells (specifically, peripheral blood mononuclear cells or PBMCs) was inversely associated with six major cardiovascular disease risk factors.11 Telomerase activity is also adversely affected by obesity and insulin resistance, another way in which both result in decreasing telomere length.12 Thus telomerase activity may offer an earlier prognosticator of genomic stability and long-term cellular viability than telomere length.

Can telomerase activity be increased by improvements in diet and lifestyle?

Published in the November 2008 issue of Lancet Oncology, Dr. Dean Ornish‘s latest research, a pilot study on the effects of dietary and lifestyle changes in 30 men with low risk prostate cancer, suggests the answer is a resounding “Yes!” PBMC telomerase activity in these men increased 29.84% within just 3 months of making significant, yet simple, changes in diet and lifestyle.1

Telomerase-Enhancing Diet, Supplement and Lifestyle Program

After a 3-day intensive residential retreat, the men were placed on a low-fat (10% of calories from fat), whole foods, plant-based diet, centered on vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, and legumes. Intake of refined carbohydrates was minimized. The diet was supplemented with soy (one daily serving of tofu plus 58 grams of a fortified soy protein powdered beverage), fish oil (3 grams daily), vitamin E (100 IU daily), selenium (200 μg daily), and vitamin C (2 grams daily).

In addition, subjects participated in moderate aerobic exercise (walking 30 min/day, 6 days/week); stress management (gentle yoga-based stretching, breathing, meditation, imagery, and progressive relaxation techniques 60 min/day, 6 days/week), and a 1-hour group support session once per week. Participants also met with staff 4 hours per week and had one weekly telephone contact with a study nurse.

Compliance was excellent for both lifestyle and dietary recommendations. After 3 months, subjects reported consuming an average11.6% of calories from fat per day, exercising an average of 3.6 hours each week, and practicing stress management techniques an average of 4.5 hours each week. All medications remained unchanged throughout the 3-month trial, with the exception of participant whose statin drug dosage was decreased. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Aging Prevention / Anti-Aging, Cancer Prevention, Dementia, Diabetes, Exercise, Heart Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Research/Data, Telomerase | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Low-fat, plant-based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


Food for Life distributes food on an internati...

Image via Wikipedia

A low-fat, plant-based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity than an omnivorous diet, shows a new study appearing in the September issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

The study, involving 59 overweight, postmenopausal women, was conducted by Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), together with colleagues at Georgetown University Hospital and George Washington University. Half of the study participants followed a vegan diet; the other half followed a control diet based on National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines.

“The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry,” says Dr. Barnard, the lead author. “As they began to experience the positive effects, weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, the women in the intervention group became even more motivated to follow the plant-based eating plan.”

Scientific studies show that obesity and overweight are far less prevalent in populations following a plant-based diet. In a recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women, Tufts University researcher P. Kirstin Newby and her colleagues found that 40 percent of meat-eaters were overweight or obese while only 25 to 29 percent of vegetarians and vegans were. Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabeteshigh blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases. A new study appearing in September’s Journal of Urology shows that a low-fat, primarily vegan diet may slow the progression of prostate cancer.

The simplicity of a vegan diet appeals to people who are busy with work and family, and many familiar recipes are easy to adapt. At least four studies published in peer-reviewed journals show that patients give the low-fat vegetarian diet a high rating in terms of acceptability, and that the transition only takes about three weeks or less.

http://www.pcrm.org/

(Source: news-medical.net)

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Diabetes? Not on a Plant-Based Diet!

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


(Source: By: Silvie Celiz; 11.01.10; Original URL: http://hlifemedia.com/2010/11/diabetes-not-on-a-plant-diet/)

Nearly 24 million children and adults in the Unites States have diabetes. That is not counting the 57 million Americans that have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and the other 5.7 million who don’t know they have it. The American Heart Association estimates that 59.7 million Americans 20 years and older have pre-diabetes, a condition that more than doubles the risk of death due to heart attack. The worse part is that the death rates due to diabetes continue to increase since 1987. Here is the good news: Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes can be reversed with NO DRUGS by getting informed and adopting a plant-based diet.

Heart disease and stroke are the number one causes of death and disability among people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, at least 65% of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke. It’s astonishing that the national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $174 billion, with direct medical costs reaching around $116 billion, and that the total diabetes-related cost could exceed $218 billion (just in the U.S.), while all these can be prevented by your food choices. The most common form of diabetes is type 2, and practitioners like Dr. Gabriel Cousens have confirmed that it can be reversed and prevented simply by eating an unprocessed, vegan, whole foods, plant-based diet with a high emphasis on live (raw) foods. That simple. Diabetes can easily be reversed and your body healed if you change your lifestyle.

So, what is diabetes exactly? Diabetes is a metabolic disorder by which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use glucose for energy. The body produces glucose from the food you eat.  Diabetes can also be described as an ongoing inflammation, which can affect all organs. Research from scientists at the University of California, San Diego, and Switzerland’s University of Fribourg discovered that inflammation provoked by immune cells calledmacrophages leads to insulin resistance and then to type 2 diabetes. We might want to watch foods that contain gluten (especially the very popular vegan protein seitan, which is pure gluten) because it is pro-inflammatory. In the long term, the development of diabetes can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. Read the rest of this entry »

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