The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Posts Tagged ‘Western pattern diet’

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 »

Posted in Plant-based Health Study, Success Stories, Tips, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

YumUniverse.com ‘s Interview of yours truly…

Posted by Jenn on January 25, 2011


http://www.yumuniverse.com/2011/01/21/the-plant-rx-plant-based-health-study-interview-with-dr-jenna-taylor/

Visit Heather Crosby’s YumUniverse to read the full interview (Link Above).


The Plant Rx Plant-Based Health Study: Interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor – By: Heather Crosby of YumUniverse.


If you do one thing for yourself and your health today, please take 10 minutes to read the following interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor, founder of The Plant Rx.

Jenna is an inspiring woman who is currently conducting a very important 60-day plant-based diet study, in which participants (StephanieNikkiVanessaMegan,John and Jax and Amber) will be changing their diets from either a Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) or a Vegetarian Diet, to a Plant-based (Vegan) diet for 60 days. Dr. Taylor and her team will be measuring the participants changes in health, both quantitatively and qualitatively—and in an effort to be as transparent as possible, all test results will be published at ThePlantRx.com.

Dr. Taylor’s perspectives not only as a physician, but as a vegan, are invaluable, and I am looking forward to sharing more of her progress and efforts to share the benefits of a plant-based diet with YU.

One of the most important things she said during our interview is that “[physicians] have been subjected to the same programming as you and I were and just like lots of other people out there, they still believe it. That being said, this is why it is imperative for people to be in charge of their own health. Ask questions, read, research, etc. No one is going to care more about you, than you do.”

Amen, sister.

– – –
YU: So, you have had some pretty significant personal results from adopting a plant-based diet. Tell us a little more about that.

Dr. T: I have and I didn’t expect any of them. Everything about transitioning toThe Plant Rx has been a positive, pleasant surprise. I was in very good health from a medical perspective, but I had no idea the harm that I was potentially causing my body.

You see, we practice what I call “reactionary” medicine in the United States. We don’t go to the doctor unless something is wrong. The problem with this approach is that many of us feel just fine until our mid-thirties, early forties or even longer. We don’t see what is happening on the inside of our bodies and our health system isn’t set up help us look at those things before that. In my case, the only “real” health issue I struggled with that I was aware of was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I didn’t think that it had anything to do with my diet as I had kept food logs and couldn’t identify any “trigger” foods so to speak. I would have episodes about once a month and the pain would be so terribly excruciating that I would literally pass out because my body could not tolerate it. Since adopting The Plant Rx diet I have not had one episode. Further, my cholesterol numbers got significantly better, I felt better—more energy, better sleep and I lost some weight too.

YU: What health goals do you have set for the future? Any issues you are dealing with now that you feel confident will go away eventually?
Dr. T: I feel great right now. I am rarely sick and the only issue I need to find a solution to is my poor posture while typing on my laptop! I plan on taking care of myself the way that I think we should practice medicine, preventatively. We need more of a focus on overall wellness in addition to The Plant Rx. This includes things like regular exercise, meditation and strong interpersonal relationships.

YU: How do you personally stay on track? Share some favorite tips (ie: travel, busy schedules, budget, dining out).
Dr. T: Planning ahead. The one thing that I wish I would have known when I transitioned was to always plan ahead because you will inevitably find yourself in a situation with little to no options for eating. For me, this means always keeping snacks with me. I make sure I have stuff at work and even a few things in the car. L.A. traffic is not kind to a hungry vegan at times!

At home, I cook on the weekends. I’m single, so cooking every night doesn’t make sense and I’m usually too tired by the time I get home from work and just want something, anything, as long as it’s immediate. Thus, I cook on the weekends and make enough to have left overs for my lunch that week and I freeze some of it so I can easily have something for times when I’m away for the weekend and don’t have the time to cook. Also, while I would prefer to have fresh organic fruits and veggies in the house, that isn’t really feasible all the time so I do buy a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables. Dining out can be a challenge, but I live by the “be creative” rule. I look at it this way, the worst case scenario is that the restaurant folks think I am difficult and weird when ordering, maybe my friends even will too, but that’s ok because I’m not going to get heart disease. I can live with that trade-off!

YU: What are your favorite plant-based meals?
Dr. T: For my Plant Rx I make super yummy pasta fagliole, chili and lentil loaf. My all-time favorite Plant Rx is a wheatberry curry casserole. The recipe as written should have chicken in it but I leave out the chicken and add more veggies.

YU: Are you eating any new foods now that you didn’t before (ie: quinoa, superfoods)?
Dr. T: Yes! I had never eaten quinoa or pomegranates, which are two of my favorites now. I also found out about this stuff called liquid aminos from Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book. I love it and use it in a bunch of different things.

Click here to read the rest of the article at: YumUniverse.com

Posted in Foods, In the Media, Plant-based Health Study | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Plant foods alter gene expression to curb inflammation

Posted by Jenn on December 28, 2010


POSTED ON OCTOBER 26, 2010 BY DEANA FERRERI, PH.D. Diseaseproof.com

(Source: http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/healthy-food-plant-foods-alter-gene-expression-to-curb-inflammation.html)

Inappropriately high levels of inflammation contribute to many of the chronic diseases of the modern world. Inflammation plays an important role in the development of atherosclerotic plaque, and inflammatory mediators have been shown to fuel tumor growth. [1] Certain characteristics of the Western diet are known to have pro-inflammatory effects – the high content of omega-6 fatty acids, for example, due to excessive oil and animal products, leads to overproduction of inflammatory molecules. Also, obesity is associated with chronic inflammation. Fat tissue produces a great number of both hormones and inflammatory molecules, and obesity-associated inflammation is said to be the link between excess body fat and chronic disease. [2]

fruits and vegetables; Flickr: karimian

Eating more plant foods and fewer animal products and oils is advisable to avoid these pro-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids, in contrast to omega-6 fatty acids, are known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Fruits and vegetables are known to be protective against chronic disease due to their low calorie density and high quantity of micronutrients and antioxidants, and have been associated with reduced circulating inflammatory molecules. A recent study showed that fruit and vegetable consumption alters circulating levels of inflammatory molecules by affecting gene expression in circulating white blood cells, limiting the production of inflammatory molecules by these cells.

Young adults reported their usual food intake, and the researchers correlated this to a number of inflammatory markers in blood, as well as expression of a number of pro-inflammatory genes in white blood cells. The subjects were divided into groups based on their quantity of fruit and vegetable consumption, and inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and TNFα) were 40% lower in the group with the highest (vs. lowest) fruit and vegetable consumption. Moreover, expression of four pro-inflammatory genes (ICAM1, ILR1, TNFα, and NF-κB1) were significantly lower in the circulating white blood cells of the high fruit and vegetable consumers. [3] C-reactive protein and plasma homocysteine are known risk factors for heart disease, and NF-κB is a key promoter of atherosclerosis development.[4]

This data suggests that plant foods have anti-inflammatory effects that have not yet been discovered.

We cannot underestimate the importance of high-nutrient foods. Our genes are inherited, but the expression of those genes is modified by our environment. Food components interact with our genes to affect the state of our health, and this study suggests that high-nutrient foods drive gene expression patterns that reduce inflammation and therefore risk of chronic disease.

References:

1. Sgambato, A. and A. Cittadini, Inflammation and cancer: a multifaceted link. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci, 2010. 14(4): p. 263-8.
2. Hajer, G.R., T.W. van Haeften, and F.L. Visseren, Adipose tissue dysfunction in obesity, diabetes, and vascular diseases. Eur Heart J, 2008. 29(24): p. 2959-71.
3. Hermsdorff, H.H., et al., Fruit and vegetable consumption and proinflammatory gene expression from peripheral blood mononuclear cells in young adults: a translational study. Nutr Metab (Lond), 2010. 7: p. 42.
4. Kutuk, O. and H. Basaga, Inflammation meets oxidation: NF-kappaB as a mediator of initial lesion development in atherosclerosis. Trends Mol Med, 2003. 9(12): p. 549-57.

Posted in Aging Prevention / Anti-Aging, In the Media, Inflammation, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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