The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Marc lost 55lbs in only 3 months! See how you can too… His amazing story!

Posted by Jenn on February 24, 2013


I’m happy to share another success story!  Meet Marc.  He’s a busy husband and dad who has lost over 50lbs in only 3 months and he’s only just begun.

Marc’s Story:

The Cardiologist came into the waiting room exhausted with his head buried in a cup of coffee. I could tell his performance in the operating room was laborious. He explained to me and my family that my Dad had a couple of close calls during the 5-hour quadruple bypass surgery, but that he was in a cardiac intensive care room with all indicators pointing to a successful recovery. Then the surgeon did something peculiar: he pointed to me and said “I know just by looking at you that I will see you on the operating table before you are

Marc's success after only 3 months!

Marc’s success after only 3 months!

40”.

I was 31 when my Dad, a retired physician, had bypass surgery. He had just turned 60 years old. While heart disease runs in our family, the conditions that brought us to the hospital for my Dad’s mega-heart alteration seemed too severe and too early to be written off as mere genetics. And the Cardiologist’s caution to me was offensive, which was just what I needed. At that point I was the father of a 7 month-old son, an active member of my community, the founding director of a successful leadership development organization for diverse and disengaged young adults in Indianapolis and I was very sick. I had so much to lose, but my health was taking it all away. Being young, morbidly obese, pre-diabetic and pre-hypertensive were all working against me: I was finally scared.

Over the next few years I set out to learn more about myself and about health. I read books and journals, had conversations with experts in health and behavior modification, searched my soul and experimented with different approaches to living. Having been overweight most of my life, I was very familiar with diet fads and ‘dieting’. I knew I didn’t want another top secret for losing weight or the next “10 steps for slimming my waistline”. I was looking for a new way of living. With the work of Dr. Dean Ornish, the Esselstyns, the China Study and others dancing around in my head, I went to bed one evening in February 2011 with grave physical and emotional pain caused by my food and lifestyle and I promised myself that the next day I would try a vegan diet. I stuck with it. Within days I felt better. I had more energy and less pain. I started losing weight and it felt good.

After a month or two of eating a vegan diet, I found ways around its healthy attributes. Oreo cookies, French fries, mad amounts of bread all became staples of my vegan menu. My weight crept up to a new high for me, 305 pounds, and my blood pressure and triglycerides were through the roof…again! I learned the hard way about the giant difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet. In December 2012, I changed everything. I started eating a plant-based diet consisting of mostly vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and very little refined and processed carbohydrates. I started routinely going to a gym, the Chase Legacy Center in Indianapolis, which is a nonprofit organization that is run by encouraging and supportive members of my community – everyone should have a fitness community like this. I started the transformation.

With only three months of sticking to a plant-based diet and regular exercise, I have lost over 50 pounds, regularly have a normal blood pressure and have gone from a size 50 waist to a size 38 waist. The best part: I am not dieting! Rather, I have introduced new foods, recipes and flavors to my diet. Diet is no longer a verb, it is a noun – a thing. By eating a plant-based diet, I am not restricting myself but I am focusing on the assets that foods bring to me. I build my culinary life around those assets. This, coupled with a supportive community at my gym, family and neighborhood, has launched a life-long chapter of wellness and whole living. While the Cardiologist did save my Dad’s life through invasive and extreme surgery, I know now that he was wrong: I will not be on his operating table by the time I am 40 or anytime soon, for that matter.

Note:  Marc will be updating us on his progress every 3 months moving forward, so sign up for our email alerts of his progress and more!

Read More Success Stories Here!

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Think eating a plant-based diet is crazy? How about this…

Posted by Jenn on January 24, 2013


Ian Before: 235lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

Ian Before: 235 lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

People have often described my diet as radical, drastic and extreme. Eating a plant-based diet to them, even if they agree it is the most healthy thing for you, is akin to asking them to undergo torture.  They have a myriad of responses to me, most of them echoing something to the effect of ” If I can’t enjoy my life then why bother”.   It’s unimaginable to me that they perceive my diet as so radical, drastic and extreme yet they don’t think that cracking open your chest while simultaneously slicing open your legs to take out vessels from your legs to graft to your heart isn’t? I’m beginning to think everyone should watch what is really involved in one of the surgeries, maybe then, they will understand the true meaning of the words radical, drastic and extreme. It is truly very hard for me to understand how anyone would choose bypass surgery over eating plants.  Then again, maybe they think it just won’t happen to them…

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Those thoughts bring us to our first success story of the year, Ian Welch from Florida.  Ian can tell you first hand the difference between the two options I described above. Ian’s story is becoming the norm rather than the exception these days due to the overwhelming consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  Fortunately, Ian is alive and well and is able to share his journey with us. When I asked why him why he wants to share it, he says it’s because he wish someone had shared this knowledge with him.

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Ian tells his story:

Two years ago I could not have imagined my life today.  At the ripe old age of 40, I was diagnosed with heart disease, four major blockages that if left alone would end my life quickly.

On March 23, 2011 I had Quadruple Bypass Surgery.  I had my chest sawed open.  It was singularly the most influential event in my life and in hindsight I would not change a thing.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

The first week out of the hospital my wife, Alicia, started us on a plant-based diet.  By December, I had lost 37 pounds and my cholesterol dropped 109 points.  Since then I have learned that eating a plant-based diet and avoiding oil can drastically improve your health.  My last carotid artery sonogram showed substantial reduction in plaque; essentially reversing 40 years of buildup in a very short period of time.  Not to mention the 20-25% weight loss.

The lightning bolt moments are as rare as a strike of electricity to the head.  They either kill you or offer you the opportunity to walk away; a second chance.  It is precisely these moments that need to be deconstructed because they happen in an instant.  These moments exist a lifetime as either regret or epiphanies.

The reality is; we have no way of knowing how we will exit this world.  For some of us, we will lead long full lives and gently succumb in our sleep at a ripe old age.  For others it will be a tragic exit, leaving loved ones to question how this could have happened.

However, the majority of us will face the challenge of fighting for our years and it comes down to a simple question.  Do you want to spend your last years in a gradual state of decline; mentally and physically?  Or do you want to challenge the odds and finish up on your feet? Your physical body has very simple needs.  It is a fact of biology.  Run your body on the core ingredients it needs, run it clean.  Don’t let your mind dictate what the body wants.  A foundation built on this simple approach will drastically move the odds of avoiding disease in your favor.

I had no plan and it ended in a hospital.  I do not want to go back to that hospital.  I share my experiences for the simple reason; I wish someone had told me sooner.  It took a life-threatening situation to become the person I am today and I like this new and improved Ian.

momdadoregon

Ian in Dec. 2011 after adopting a plant-based diet. 198 lbs / 153 Cholesterol / 105:75 blood pressure

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Ian Welch: In 2011, at the age of 40, Ian underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Ian completely transformed his life, adopting a plant-based approach to wellness. Ian is currently writing his book; “Heart Disease Saved My Life: Harness the Power of a Chronic Disease Diagnosis.” His goal is to provide others with a plan of action when faced with difficult circumstances. Ian lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with his wife. He is an avid long distance runner & Bikram Yoga practitioner.  He maintains a blog at www.WholeFed.org.

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Need a resource for unbiased Nutrition Information?

Posted by Jenn on January 16, 2013


Harvard School of Public Health

Where do you get your nutrition information?

What resources do you trust? How do you know they are the best?

“You may have heard that ‘knowledge is power,’ or that information, the raw material of knowledge, is power. But the truth is that only some information is power: reliable and accurate information”.  Information to the contrary, is not merely careless, it can be dangerous and destructive especially when it comes to your health.

Today we have the luxury of having vast amounts of information right at our fingertips.  Just type in a few words and away you go.  You can find information on just about anything you can think of and nutrition information is no exception.  The question becomes how do you decipher which information is credible and best and which is not.

After all, with different factions pontificating one diet over another, special interests doing what they do best and with new clinical studies contradicting the very information we once thought was gospel on a seemingly regular basis  – how do you know what or who to trust?

The 3 attributes I consider most valuable when evaluating these information sources are:

  • Bias – What is this particular groups, organization, entity, web site or person’s motivation? Is it to inform, persuade, sell, and/or change an attitude or belief? What do they have to gain or lose?
  • Reputation and Credibility – What is this particular group, organization, entity, web site or person’s mission, values and goals? Is there a governing body that ensures these are met?  How long has this particular group, organization, entity, site  been in existence?
  • Transparency -Does this particular group, organization, entity,web site or person’s have evidence to back up their claims and is it readily accessible? And if so, what are the sources of this information? What are their credentials (see bullet #2) And do they have a bias (see bullet #1)?

The Harvard School of Public Health’s: Nutrition Source

meets the afore-mentioned criteria in innumerable ways.  Furthermore, it is expertly maintained, easy to navigate and always up to date on the most recent research and public health information. But, don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself and let me know what you think! I would love to hear your feedback.

SOURCES:

Harris, Robert. “Evaluating Internet Research Sources,” [ http://www.sccu.edu/faculty/R_Harris/evalu8it.htm ] (March, 1999) @ http://education.illinois.edu/wp/credibility/index.html.

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From Skinny Bitch to Bill Clinton: The Rise of Veganism | Psychology Today

Posted by Jenn on January 13, 2013


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Health is trending…

Check out this great article at Psychology today on how being healthy is catching on:

From Skinny Bitch to Bill Clinton: The Rise of Veganism | Psychology Today.

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The Pleasure Trap: You know what you should do, so why is it so hard to do it? – YumUniverse™ | YumUniverse™

Posted by Jenn on August 24, 2011


The Pleasure Trap: You know what you should do, so why is it so hard to do it? – YumUniverse™ | YumUniverse™.

GREAT article by Heather Crosby at YumUniverse.  Very powerful.  A must read in my opinion!

Posted in Food Addiction, Resources, Tips, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dr. McDougall Nutrition Bill Passed in Senate Committee (VIDEO) – Vegsource.com

Posted by Jenn on May 7, 2011


Dr. McDougall Nutrition Bill Passed in Senate Committee (VIDEO) – Vegsource.com.

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Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!

Posted by Jenn on April 13, 2011


The Plant-based health study concluded on March 15th.  Since then we have been testing our participants and gathering the final results and we are just about ready to present them all to you.  In the meantime, we will have some special posts on the individual participant’s results and their thoughts on participating in the study now that it is over.

 

Today I am very excited to present to you  Vanessa’s study results!

 

Vanessa's Plant-based Health Study Results

Vanessa entered our study as a 30 year old Dental student (who btw, is now a licensed Dentist! Congrats, Vanessa!) who consumed a Standard American Diet (SAD).  She was thin with a very good BMI.  Her pre-study lab work showed that she had hyperlipidemia with a total blood cholesterol of 255 (anything over 200 is considered “high”) and an LDL cholesterol of 130 (anything above 130 is considered “high”).  Her HDL values were phenomenal, among the best I’ve ever seen, and her triglycerides were also very good as was her A1C value.

After 30 days on a plant-based diet, Vanessa’s total cholesterol dropped from 255 to 206.  A 49 point drop! Her LDL cholesterol dropped from 130 to 86.  A 44 point drop!  These reductions almost brought her into acceptable blood cholesterol ranges.  Her LDL was now considered well within normal ranges and her Total Cholesterol was now only 6 points above what is considered to be the “normal” range.  All other values remained fairly constant including her weight and BMI.

After another 30 days (at the 60 day conclusion of our study), the results were even MORE impressive! Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol dropped another 28 points to 178! Further, her LDL cholesterol dropped an additional 28 points to 58! Talk about impressive!  In 60 days, Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol went from 255 to 178, a 77 point decrease! Her LDL Cholesterol went from 130 to 58, a 72 point decrease!  Thus, not only does Vanessa NO LONGER HAVE HYPERLIPIDEMIA, but she cut her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) more than in half!

As if that weren’t enough, her LDL values are now below what even Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn would consider safe and cardio-protective from the likes of heart disease and its co-morbidities!  Great job, Vanessa!

To read about Vanessa’s journey visit Vanessa’s Page under the Plant-based Health Study tab. Her final labs will also be posted on the main Plant-based Health Study page by weeks end in the interest of transparency.  Additionally, her final post and thoughts on her experience after getting her final results have been pasted below for you to read.

Please join me in thanking Vanessa for participating in our study as well as congratulating her on her amazing results!

Vanessa’s Final Post

(March 29, 2010)

The plant-based diet study has been over now for a few weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been keeping a strict plant-based diet since then, but that is not the case.  However, I am still keeping a diet which is predominantly plant-based.   I would say that over the course of two days, I might have one meal that includes some form of dairy.  Meat is a different story – I’ve never been a big meat-eater, so I don’t have as strong of a desire to include it back into my diet.

However, today may have been a game changer!

I just received the results from my final blood work and I am SHOCKED at the results.  I was pretty happy at the midpoint blood work when my LDL went down so significantly.  However, I had blood work done back in September that produced similar results.  I was happy that my cholesterol improved, but I honestly thought that things would probably plateau around these levels. Totally wrong! My LDL levels continued to plummet during the last 30 days.   My LDL levels went from 130 at the beginning of the study to 58! So now I feel like I need to rethink things…  I had originally decided that I didn’t want to completely eliminate all traces of dairy from my diet – a minimal amount would certainly make keeping this lifestyle a little easier without having a large impact on my physical health.  I think I still believe this, but I will definitely give pause before I opt to eat foods outside of a plant-based diet. Read the rest of this entry »

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

Posted by Jenn on March 31, 2011


Cholesterol

Image via Wikipedia

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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Cheese as an opioid? and, what the heck are “casomorphins”?

Posted by Jenn on March 15, 2011


If you talk to anyone who has recently switched to a plant-based diet and you ask them what food(s) they miss most, 9 times out of

Bovine Beta-Casomorphin-7 courtesy of Wikipedia

10, they will say cheese! Nope, not chocolate cake or BBQ, it’s cheese.  The same thing is the case if you talk to a vegetarian about completely transitioning to a plant-based diet and omitting dairy from their diet.  The typical response is, ” I would, but I can’t give up cheese”.

So, why is this?  After all, cheese does kind-of smell like dirty socks!

The answer is: Casomorphins.

Ok, well, that’s great – but, 1. What exactly are casomorphins and 2. How do they explain our love obsession with cheese? And, 3. does it even matter?

  • 1.  What are “Casomorphins“?

Definition: Casomorphins are peptides, i.e., protein fragments, derived from the digestion of milk protein.

Casein, is the milk protein that makes up 80-86% of the protein content of cow’s milk.  Casein has been documented to break down in the stomach to produce the peptide, casomorphin, an opioid that acts as a histamine releaser. [1]  (Although, not the topic of this blog post, the fact that casomorphins are a direct histamine releaser in humans is why so many people are allergic to dairy products; An estimated 70% of the population worldwide.)

Thus, the distinguishing characteristic of casomorphins is that they have an opioid effect.

  • 2.  How do casomorphins explain our love obsession with cheese?Unknown

In his book Breaking the Food Seduction, Dr. Neal Barnard discusses the addictive qualities of casein. He uses the example of chocolate to explain how this works:

University of Michigan researchers showed that chocolate does not merely tickle your taste buds; it actually works inside your brain in much the same way opiate drugs do. The researchers gave 26 volunteers a drug called naloxone, an opiate-blocker used in emergency rooms to stop heroin, morphine, and other narcotics from affecting the brain. It turned out that naloxone blocked much of chocolate’s appeal. When they offered volunteers a tray filled with Snicker’s bars, M & M’s, chocolate chip cookies, and Oreos, chocolate was not much more exciting than a crust of dry bread.

In other words, chocolate’s attraction does not come simply from its creamy texture or deep brown color. It appears to stimulate the same part of the brain that morphine acts on. For all intents and purposes, it is a drug-not necessarily a bad one and not a terribly strong one, but strong enough nonetheless to keep us coming back for more.

As common as chocolate addiction may be, it is by no means the only potentially addictive food, nor is it the most dangerous. In PCRM‘s research studies, when we take people off meat, dairy products, and other unhealthy fare, we often find that the desire for cheese, in particular, lingers on much more strongly than for other foods. While they might like ice cream or yogurt, they describe their feelings for cheese as a deep-seated craving. Could cheese really be addictive?

Well, in 1981, Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research Laboratories in Research Triangle Park, N.C., reported a remarkable discovery. Analyzing samples of cow’s milk, they found traces of a chemical that looked very much like morphine. They put it to one chemical test after another. And, finally, they arrived at the conclusion that, in fact, it is morphine. There is not a lot of it and not every sample had detectable levels. But there is indeed some morphine in both cow’s milk and human milk.

Morphine, of course, is an opiate and is highly addictive. So how did it get into milk? At first, the researchers theorized that it must have come from the cows’ diets. After all, morphine used in hospitals comes from poppies and is also produced naturally by a few other plants that the cows might have been eating. But it turns out that cows actually produce it within their bodies, just as poppies do. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are apparently produced in cows’ livers and can end up in their milk.

But that was only the beginning, as other researchers soon found. Cow’s milk-or the milk of any other species, for that matter-contains a protein, called casein, that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates, called casomorphins. A cup of cow’s milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese…

{It takes approximately 10lbs of milk to make 1lb of cheese.  As milk is turned into cheese, most of its water is removed leaving behind concentrated casein and fat.  Thus, concentrated dairy products, like cheese, have especially high levels of opiates}

…When you drink a glass of milk or eat a slice of cheese, stomach acid and intestinal bacteria snip the casein molecular chains into casomorphins of various lengths. One of them, a short string made up of just five amino acids, has about one-tenth the pain-killing potency of morphine”.

At this point you might be wondering what the evolutionary basis might be for these opiates to be in a mammal’s milk.  Dr. Barnard, goes on to explain that:

“It appears that the opiates from mother’s milk produce a calming effect on the infant and, in fact, may be responsible for a good measure of the mother-infant bond. No, it’s not all lullabies and cooing. Psychological bonds always have a physical underpinning. Like it or not, mother’s milk has a drug-like effect on the baby’s brain that ensures that the baby will bond with Mom and continue to nurse and get the nutrients all babies need. Like heroin or codeine, casomorphins slow intestinal movements and have a decided antidiarrheal effect. The opiate effect may be why adults often find that cheese can be constipating, just as opiate painkillers are”.

  • 3.  Does all of this matter?

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Interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor from The PLANT RX – Blog – Health and Happiness Club

Posted by Jenn on March 10, 2011


Interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor from The PLANT RX – Blog – Health and Happiness Club.

Jenna & friend

Posted in In the Media | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »