The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Posts Tagged ‘Conditions and Diseases’

William Castelli, MD: Heart Disease Risk, Cholesterol and Lipids in 2011: What Do We Really Know?

Posted by Jenn on March 31, 2011


Cholesterol

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2011-02-18 William Castelli MD Heart Disease Risk, Cholesterol and Lipids in 2011: What Do We Really Know? | Interview Transcripts.


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More study results & updated results grid!

Posted by Jenn on February 22, 2011


Today Jax and Megan’s labs came in and they are keeping the streak going with some more incredible results!  

In the first 30 days of switching from a SAD to a plant-based diet Jax  has:

  • lost 9lbs
  • decreased her total cholesterol 16 points
  • increased her HDL 14 points
  • decreased her LDL from 152 to 128!  A whopping 24 points!

This 24 point decrease brings Jax’s LDL cholesterol within the normal range!

Megan, who was a pescatarian prior to our study, decreased her total cholesterol from 167 to 159, an 8 point decrease.  The rest of her values remained fairly constant.  These results were expected being that Megan was already a pescatarian.

*Remember, Megan was one of only two of our participants whose values were all within normal ranges from the study’s start.  The second, Amber,  was also mostly vegetarian (we will have Amber’s results back later this week) before the study’s start.

** Lab results will be posted on the Plant-based Study page under the participant.

Below is an updated results chart.  We still are awaiting results from 2 of our 7 participants and will fill that in as soon as we have them (Vanessa’s are expected tomorrow).  Yellow shading represents values that are considered high and outside of the ranges that are considered normal.

Posted in Plant-based Health Study, Weight Loss, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Preventing Breast Cancer: A plant-based diet

Posted by Jenn on January 30, 2011


Awareness is the key to breast cancer prevention. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it is essential that you have regular medical tests and mammograms. Don’t omit to check your breasts every month. Breast Self Examination can help in early detection of cancer. Women who have their children while in their mid-thirties run added risk of developing breast cancer. Breastfeeding the child reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.

Read on to find out how you can make dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent breast cancer.

Preventing breast cancer

  • It is essential to maintain healthy body weight; with BMI less than 25. With extra fat tissue, you run the increased risk of estrogen circulating in the body. Women with higher body weight are more predisposed to breast cancer.
  • Consequently a regular fitness regimen would aid in maintaining ideal body weight. This could help keep cancer at bay. Moderate aerobic activity boosts body’s protection against breast cancer.
  • Studies have shown a definite correlation between high intake of dietary fat and incidence of breast cancer. Keep away from saturated fats and trans-fats. Monounsaturated oils have tremendous cancer-fighting properties. Enrich your diet with nuts and seeds that provide selenium. Add Omega-3 fats and soy products. Lowering the fat intake can go a long way in helping you maintain good body weight. Lowered fat intake also helps in reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Your diet must contain many servings of breast cancer prevention foods – from broccoli and cabbage to brussel sprouts and dark leafy greens. Go in for carrots and berries and don’t omit the cruciferous vegetables. Avoid foods with high glycemic index and instead opt for whole grains, beans and legumes. Eat fruits high in phytochemicals, fiber and antioxidants. Include carotene-rich food such as mango, spinach, pumpkin, sweet potato, yams, chili peppers and greens.
  • Limit alcohol intake to not more than a drink of wine, beer or liquor a day. Increased alcohol intake has been linked to increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Certain types of breast cysts are known to increase the chance of breast cancer. Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy as far as possible.

Source: http://www.targetwoman.com/articles/preventing-breast-cancer.html

Posted in Cancer Prevention, In the Media, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#2 ranked golfer in the world, Phil Mickelson, adopts a plant-based diet

Posted by Jenn on December 29, 2010


PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Phil Mic...

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Phil Mickelson, the second-ranked golfer in the world and owner of the rights to a California burger chain called Five Guys Burgers and Fries, has chosen to eliminate animal products from his diet. Days before his 40th birthday, Mickelson experienced debilitating joint pain, which was later diagnosed as psoriatic arthritis.

Mickelson says that his inflammatory joint disease – which typically results in intense pain, stiffness and lack of movement – is normally managed with an anti-inflammatory drug called Enbrel but after reading a book about plant-based nutrition and its health benefits, he “thought maybe it would help”.

Michelson’s illness is currently inremission and he says he intends to stick with plant-based foods in order to ensure that he doesn’t have a relapse.  He admits the change has been difficult, bur when asked if he thinks he’ll stick to it he replied, “if it will somehow keep this (arthritis) in remission or stop it from coming back, yeah, I’ll be able to do it.”

There are several ways that a plant-based diet can benefit patients with autoimmune-related arthritis. First, many plant-based diets are low-calorie and appear to be helpful in maintaining a healthy body weight. Obese adults face a higher risk of psoriatic arthritis, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Second, plant-based diets are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which may help reduce inflammation in the body. Red meat in particular has been linked with increased inflammation. Third, plant-based diets that are well planned and include lots of fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants that block inflammation.

So what does Phil say when asked about Five Guys Burgers and Fries? “We’re working on a veggie burger!”

Posted in Arthritis, Athletes/Athletics, In the Media, Inflammation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Interview: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on Heart Health

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


Green Heart (And the Green Grass Grows All Aro...

Image by CarbonNYC via Flickr

(Source: By- Maryl Celiz on 11.04.10:  Original URL: http://hlifemedia.com/2010/11/htalk-dr-caldwell-esselstyn/)

As an internationally known surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., made the case for a plant-based as a cure to cardiac trouble, a feat he explains in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Yes, you read right – prevent AND reverse. But you don’t have heart disease (yet), you say? Read on. In this revealing interview, Dr. Esselstyn, who will soon be talking plant-based heart health on the big screen in the groundbreaking film Forks Over Knives, speaks about the surprising young age we start to develop heart disease, how grave the situation is, and how we can completely avoid it.

Maryl Celiz: What in your practice prompted you to think of a plant-based diet as a treatment for heart disease?
Caldwell Esselstyn: It was sort of an evolution for me. I started out as a surgeon, and it was halfway through my surgical career when I was chairman of our breast cancer task force that it was apparent that no matter how many patients for whom I was doing breast surgery, I wasn’t doing one single thing for the next unsuspecting victim. In other words, why were people developing breast cancer, was the question. And I began sort of a global research pattern and it was striking to me that in the late 70s early 80s, even in Kenya and Africa, for instance, breast cancer was something like 20-30 times less frequently seen than in the United States. In Japan, in the early 1950s, it was very infrequently seen. But as soon as the Japanese would migrate to the United States, the second and third generation of Japanese-Americans began to have the same rate of breast cancer as their Caucasian counterpart. Perhaps even more compelling was cancer of the prostate, which, in the entire nation of Japan, in 1958 how many autopsy common deaths were there from cancer of the prostate? Eighteen – in the entire nation. Very striking public health figure. By 1978 they were up to about 137, which still pales in comparison to the over 28,000 that will die this year from prostate cancer in this country. About that time I began to feel that my bones would long be dust before I really had the answers to nutrition and cancer, although in hind sight I’m not sure that’s true. But the decision was made at that time to get at cancer through heart disease, because it was quite striking that in this global review, there were a number of cultures that were plant-based, where cardiac disease was virtually unknown. I mean, even today, if you want to look at rural China, the Papuan islands and New Guinea, central Africa, the Tarahumara indians in northern Mexico, heart disease is virtually non-existent. So, it was really very powerful epidemiological evidence, and there was some experimental evidence with animals to suggest that, if they did have a diet that was plant-based, they would be absolutely free of heart disease, and perhaps if we employed this on patients who are ravaged with heart disease, we could actually not only halt it but reverse it.

MC: How and why does a plant-based diet work to reverse heart disease?
CE: Well, to answer that question, all experts I think would agree that the initiation of heart disease, and the build up of plaque in the arteries is caused by injury to the inner lining of the artery. It’s the inner lining of the artery that has the amazing capacity to make a molecule called nitric oxide, which protects us. As long as we have absolutely lots and lots of nitric oxide being made by the lining of our artery, we’re fine. But, sadly, the typical Western diet we’ve now learned over the last 15-18 years that, every time these certain foods pass our lips, they impair, they compromise, and they injure the lining of our artery, so that it’s making less and less and less of this wonderful protective nitric oxide.  So much so that by, let’s say, age 20, the average age at which our GIs were autopsied in Korea and Vietnam, and even without a microscope, 80% of those GIs autopsies had evidence of coronary artery heart disease. That’s a pretty darn young age to have this. Now, they weren’t far enough advanced in the disease yet to have the heart attacks or the clinical events, which were probably still several decades away. But there it is, already established in people who are that young. And we thought for some time that it might be due to the stress of the military. So, another study was done 40 years later, where they looked at thousands of adults between the ages of 17 and 38, who were dying of accidents, homicides, and suicides. And low and behold, they found that the disease is now ubiquitous: everybody had it. This is pretty powerful evidence that it is the Western foods that are doing it.

MC: What are the Western foods that are causing heart disease?
CE: Studies have shown that it’s these processed oils. Olive oil – yes, even sacred olive oil. Corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil – all these processed oils injure our endothelium – our lining of our artery. So do dairy products. So do meat, fish, and chicken. We found that when we took patients who were absolutely ravaged with heart disease and had them completely eliminate those foods that injured their arteries, not only did they begin to lose weight, lose their high blood pressure, and also lose their diabetes, but most importantly, their chest pain would go away – and it would go away often extremely promptly. And also, when we did the follow up angiograms, a number of these patients had shown striking reversal of disease. And I think the ultimate proof was, how so many of them lived well beyond 20 years.

MC: The body heals itself.
CE: It certainly does.

MC: Can a single meal have a negative effect?
CE: Yes. That’s how the evidence against the Western diet was discovered. There was a classic experiment that was done by Robert Vogel, who was a wonderful cardiologist at the University of Maryland. There’s a special test called the brachial artery tourniquet test, which can show how the artery can dilate in a normal situation. They put a tourniquet in the upper arm for about five minutes and measure the diameter of the artery after you put on the tourniquet and after it’s released, and you can see a striking dilatation – that is to say, the artery will widen greatly when the tourniquet is released after having been on for five minutes. That’s due to nitric oxide. However, when they took a group of healthy young people to a fast food restaurant, one half of the group got corn flakes, and they had a wonderful normal artery response. The other half had the hash browns and sausages, and within 120 minutes after that meal, they were unable to dilate the artery. It had so injured and so compromised the endothelium. Now, being young, a couple of hours later, that slowly began to recuperate somewhat. But you can just imagine the next morning for breakfast – scrambled eggs and bacon – and lunch, they might have white bread, mayonnaise and cold cuts, and at supper time, a baked potato with sour cream, lamb chops, vegetables soaked in butter, ranch dressing on a salad, and ice cream. In other words, we in Western civilization just hammer and hammer, injure and injure, repetitively, the lining of our blood vessel – and the vessel becomes diseased.

MC: So what is your recommendation – the rules of your program? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cancer Prevention, Heart Disease, In the Media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

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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Cancer Facts – Foods for Cancer Prevention

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


Logo of the United States National Cancer Inst...

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(Source: Cancerproject.org from the physicians committee for responsible medicine)

Of the many diseases that affect people these days, cancer is among the most feared. But despite a wealth of scientific data, most people remain unaware of how they can reduce their risk of developing cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, as much as 80 percent of all cancers are due to identified factors, and thus are potentially preventable. Thirty percent are due to tobacco use, and as much as 35 percent to 50 percent are due to foods. It is easy to control these and other risk factors.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer begins as a single abnormal cell that begins to multiply out of control. Groups of such cells form tumors and invade healthy tissue, often spreading to other parts of the body. Carcinogens are substances that promote the development of cancerous cells. They may come from foods, from the air, or even from within the body. Most carcinogens are neutralized before damage can occur, but sometimes they attack the cell’s genetic material (DNA) and alter it. It takes years for a noticeable tumor to develop. During this time, compounds known as inhibitors can keep the cells from growing. Some vitamins in plant foods are known to be inhibitors. Dietary fat, on the other hand, is known to be a promoter that helps the abnormal cells grow quickly.

Fiber Fights Cancer

In 1970, British physician Dennis Burkitt observed that a high-fiber diet reduces diseases of the digestive tract. He observed that in countries where diets are high in fiber (that is, plant-based diets), there were fewer cases of colon cancer. Around the world, this has proven true. The highest fiber intakes are found in nonindustrialized nations where meat is scarce and plant foods fill the menu. Animal products contain no fiber. The U.S. and other Western nations whose diets are based upon animal products have the highest rates of colon cancer.

While no one is certain exactly how fiber protects against digestive tract disorders, there are several possibilities. By definition, fiber cannot be digested by humans early in the digestive process. It moves food more quickly through the intestines, helping to eliminate carcinogens. It also draws water into the digestive tract. The water and fiber make fecal matter bulkier, so carcinogens are diluted.

Bile acids are secreted into the intestine to help digest fat; there, bacteria can change the acids into chemicals that promote colon cancer. Fiber may bind with these bile acids and evict them from the intestines.1 Also, bacteria in the colon ferment the fiber creating a more acidic environment which may make bile acids less toxic.

Fiber is also protective against other forms of cancer. Studies have shown that stomach cancer and breast cancer are less common on high-fiber diets.2,3 Fiber affects levels of estrogens in the body. Estrogens are normally secreted into the intestine, where the fiber binds with the hormone and moves it out of the body.4 Without adequate fiber, the estrogen can be reabsorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream. High levels of estrogen are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

In the U.S., the average daily fiber intake is 10 to 20 grams per day. Experts recommend 30 to 40 grams per day. The best sources of fiber are whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, vegetables, and fruits. Foods that are closest to their natural state, unrefined and unpeeled, are highest in fiber.

Fat Raises Cancer Risks

Cross-cultural studies have revealed that the populations with the highest levels of fat consumption are also the ones with the highest death rates from breast and colon cancer. The lowest rates are in groups with the lowest consumption of fats.5 Migration studies help to rule out the influence of genetics.6 Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cancer Prevention | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Plant-based diet may help depression, dementia

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


(Source: Foodconsumer.org; By David Liu and editing by Rachel Stockton; 07/07/2010)

A new study in the July 6, 2010, issue of Neurology suggests that having depression boosts the  risk of developing dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The study merely showed an association; the results do not determine whether or not depression causes demention, or vice versa.

The study involved 949 people at an average age of 79 years, who were free of dementia; however, 125 of them were diagnosed with depression at the beginning of the study.

At the end of the 17-year follow-up, 164 participants developed dementia; of those participants, 136 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Jane Saczynski, PhD, author of the study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA and colleagues found that 22 percent of those who had depression at baseline ended up developing dementia at the end of the study, compared to 17 percent of those who were not depressed.

Dr. Saczyynski said that even though depression may not necessarily cause dementia, it is possible that something like inflammation of brain tissue contributes to depression and an increased risk of dementia.

Indeed, that is a possibility.  Diet is most assuredly one thing that may affect risk of both depression and dementia.

A study led by Nanri A and colleagues from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, Japan shows that a plant-based diet protects against depression.

Nanri found a healthy Japanese diet, consisting of high amounts of vegetables, fruit, mushrooms and soy products was associated with fewer depressive symptoms.

Nanri’s findings were reported online in the May 19,2010 edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Another study led by Hughes T.F.(and colleagues) from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that those who consume moderate or high amounts of fruit and vegetables in midlife may help cut their risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, in later life.

The association was particularly significant among women,especially those with angina pectoris in midlife, according to the study published in the May 2010 issue of the American Journal of Geriatry and Psychiatry. Read the rest of this entry »

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