Category Archives: Health

After a heart attack

What do you do after a heart attack? Cardiac rehabilitation is the recommended treatment, and the good news is that following a plant-based diet during rehab leads to a better outcome.

OK, so what is cardiac rehab? Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed with the goal of halting or reversing the progression of cardiovascular disease and improving outcomes. It can be an essential component of care for patients with coronary artery disease. Several studies have shown that participation in CR after a heart attack, getting a stent, or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, significantly reduces the disease, risk of dying, and hospital readmission rates in a cost‐effective manner.

Core components include: (1) patient assessment, (2) nutritional counseling, (3) weight management, (4) blood pressure management, (5) cholesterol management, (6) diabetes management, (7) tobacco cessation, (8) stress management, (9) physical activity counseling, and (10) exercise training.

So how does a veg diet help? Studies show that people treated with a plant-based diet showed significantly better improvements in weight management, blood pressure management, cholesterol management and diabetes management than those on a standard American diet. They also reduced their emotional stress and experienced better quality of life. Depression can commonly follow a heart attack. 80% of people who followed a plant-based diet as part of their rehab showed a reduction in their depression.

In this age of tight budgets, it’s important to know that one study showed that for every dollar spent on rehab with a plant-based diet, $5.55 in medical expenses were saved.

We’ve written before on how a plant-based diet can effectively treat obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It gets even better. While you’re improving your cardiovascular health, a plant-based diet can also reduce your risk of other diseases such as prostate and colon cancer.

Following a plant-based diet as part of a cardiac rehabilitation program is a wise strategy which will improve outcomes, lower the risk of recurrence, and lower the costs of treatment.

This article is for informational purposes only. Any changes or treatments must be made with your physician. Show our professional level article on preventing and treating heart disease with a plant-based diet to your physician.

Vegans breathe easier

Getting COVID 19 makes it hard to breathe but at least it doesn’t affect many children, and a vaccine is being distributed. There’s no vaccine for asthma, but a plant-based diet helps those who suffer from asthma to breathe easier.

Childhood asthma continues to be a major public health problem worldwide. Adults get asthma too. The western, meat-centered diet, may partly explain the “asthma epidemic” in the United States.

What is asthma? Asthma is a disease in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus and inflammation. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.

Eating meat increases the risk of wheezing, a symptom of asthma, in children. Meat also increases the risk of disturbed sleep from wheezing and the risk of exercise induced wheezing. Inflammatory compounds found in cooked meat have been found to give rise to a heightened risk of childhood wheeze. These compounds, known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs for short, are by-products of high temperature cooking, such as grilling, frying, or roasting, with cooked meat being a major dietary source.

What if someone already has asthma? One study on people with asthma receiving long term medication, who were placed on a vegan diet for a year, found that in almost all cases medication was able to be withdrawn or drastically reduced. There was a significant decrease in asthma symptoms with 71% of patients reporting improvement at 4 months and 92% after a year.

However, you can reduce your risk of getting asthma in the first place by eating more vegetables and whole grains. A study lowered the risk of getting asthma by 42% for those eating more vegetables and 54% for those eating more whole grains, while consuming dairy increased the risk by 93% and intake of cured meats such as salami, pastrami and bacon, was associated with worsening asthma symptoms by 76%.

This is not surprising since asthma may, in part, be an autoimmune disease. People who follow a plant-based diet have lower levels of inflammation, and lower risks of other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It’s time that every doctor recommended that children avoid animal products and that their asthmatic patients try a plant-based diet.

A perfect storm created Covid-19

The COVID 19 pandemic seems to have arisen from a perfect storm. Eating animals, wearing their fur, keeping wild animals in zoos, and having an unnatural relationship with nature have created the perfect storm. With human to human transmission, that storm has become a hurricane.

COVID 19 is a zoonosis. Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that can spread between animals and people. The flu and Ebola are also zoonoses. While scientist are still trying to understand the origin of the virus, it appears that it originated in bats. Bats are eaten in China and so are pangolins. The virus could have infected people directly or through intermediate animals, possibly pangolins or a combination of both. It begs the question, what are we doing eating these animals? Is it worth the amount it is costing us and the rest of humanity?

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Catching Coronavirus from Mink

People have been catching the coronavirus from mink, animals raised to make fur coats. Here’s yet another reason to not buy fur coats as we head into the holiday season! More than 200 cases of coronavirus appear to be linked to sick minks on fur farms in Denmark, according to new data released last Thursday by the country’s public health agency. Worse, there’s worry that the strain of the virus in the mink might make the vaccine ineffective.

Danish officials said that they now want to cull all 15 million mink at the country’s roughly 1,200 fur farms as a precautionary step to protect people from contracting the virus. Mink on at least 220 fur farms in Denmark have already tested positive for the coronavirus.

We may be at risk here too. The United States, too, has confirmed that minks have contracted coronavirus on fur farms in Utah, Wisconsin, and Michigan, although so far there is no evidence that the minks are making humans sick in the U.S. “These investigations are ongoing, and we will release data once available,” says Jasmine Reed, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson.

When people catch a disease such as the coronavirus from animals, it’s called zoonosis. While we’re on the subject, it is important to note as we go into flu season that influenza, the flu, is also a zoonosis, one that is spread from chickens and pigs. Since these diseases come from keeping animals in close confinement, the way to prevent such diseases is to stop confining animals.

Besides the risk to human health, raising mink is very harsh on the animals themselves.  On fur factory farms around the world, millions of rabbits, foxes, mink and other wild animals spend their entire lives in cramped cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors—only to be crudely gassed or electrocuted at the end.

Many vegetarians extend their choices to what they wear on their body as well as what is consumed as food. There are many good artificial furs, and there’s really no reason why anyone should choose to wear animal fur.

Reduce your risk of Breast Cancer

A vegetarian diet can help reduce your risk of breast cancer and that’s very important. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and American Cancer Society (ACS) cancer prevention guidelines recommend maintaining a healthy weight, undertaking at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, limiting alcohol consumption, and eating a plant-based diet.

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Eric Adams – Change of Diet saved his life!

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough president of New York City

Eric Adams grew up extremely poor, living in a 4-storey tenement building in a family with 6 children.  After a 22-year career in the NY City police department, he moved into politics and is currently Brooklyn Borough president of New York City and running for City mayor in 2021.

Eric noticed that he was starting to lose his sight in 2016.  A visit to the doctors determined that he had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a stomach ulcer, and late stage Type 2 Diabetes.  He was told that he would be on medication for the rest of his life, that he would likely lose his sight and possibly some fingers and toes from nerve damage.  This was a very emotional time for him, facing the possibility of not being able to continue to be involved in politics.  But then he learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet.  Changing his diet saved his life.  He learned about the power of a whole food plant-based diet to treat his condition.

Within 3 weeks of changing his diet, his vision improved.  Within 3 months, the nerve damage recovered and he’s never needed to take medications after the first week.  He now uses the power of his position to share the importance of eating healthy and the benefits of a plant-based diet as widely as possible.  He has supported local schools switching their lunches to all vegetarian, and encouraged prisons to provide healthier food.  If he had his way there would be more meatless options in every city entity.  He encourages everyone to be “a thriver instead of a survivor.” If elected, he will become the first vegan NY City mayor.

Grass-Fed Beef – bad for us and for the planet

Recently, some people have been touting grass-fed beef as eliminating all the problems associated with meat, or as an equivalent alternative to going vegetarian. Don’t fall for it. Grass-fed beef is still bad for us, the environment and, of course, the cows.

Let’s take a look and see what some leading veg-authors have to say on the subject and then make a few observations of our own. Read more

Calcium and mineral mythology

Bok ChoyOne of the many myths we hear about when it comes to minerals is that you need to consume dairy products to get enough calcium. While milk, cheese and yogurt do have calcium, there are plenty of other choices and some distinct advantages for those who want to skip the dairy and get their calcium for plant foods. Plant foods, such as collards and kale, are often good sources of calcium, but don’t carry the price tag of saturated fat and cholesterol, or a grumbly tummy for those with lactose intolerance. Plant foods are also easier on the animals and the environment.

Some people may take time to get used to the idea after seeing all the commercials with celebrities wearing a milk moustache, but as you learn more about it, we think you’ll be reaching for the veggies as the best way to get your calcium. The chart below shows some of the many plant sources of calcium, with dairy milk included for comparison. See our fact sheet to learn more about how to get plenty of calcium in your diet.

Food Calcium mg per 100 cal serving Absorption rate
Bok Choy 870mg 53%
Collard Greens 609mg 52%
Orange Juice (calcium fortified) 320mg 52%
Tofu, set with calcium 287mg 31%
Kale 270mg 49%
Broccoli 215mg 61%
Cow’s milk (for comparison) 188mg 32%
Sesame seeds 170mg 21%
Cabbage 160mg 65%
White beans 72mg 22%
Tempeh 55mg 37%

See professional level article on ensuring adequate calcium.

Osteoarthritis – A plant-based diet can help

Osteoarthritic hip joint

Do your joints hurt? Maybe you have osteoarthritis? The good news is that a plant-based diet may be able to help.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine. Osteoarthritis has often been referred to as a “wear and tear” disease. But besides the breakdown of cartilage, osteoarthritis affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bone and deterioration of the connective tissues that hold the joint together and attach muscle to bone. It also causes inflammation of the joint lining.

Vegetarians have a lower risk of osteoarthritis. One study showed that even light meat consumption once a week increased the risk of osteoarthritis by 31% in women and 19% in men, compared to vegetarians.

People already diagnosed with arthritis can take steps to improve their diet quality as a possible route to reduce arthritis symptoms and maintain a healthy body weight. In one study, a whole food plant-based diet was associated with a significant reduction in pain compared to an ordinary omnivorous diet, with statistically significant pain reduction seen as early as two weeks after initiation of dietary modification.

The plant-based diet is thought to help in many ways. It helps maintain a healthy weight and lowers the level of inflammation. Plant foods also contain phytonutrients that help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Phytonutrients are substances, only found in plants, that while not vitamins, minerals or fiber, nevertheless can have a powerful benefit when it comes to health. Certain foods such as green peppers, cabbage, spinach, papaya and kiwi fruit have higher levels of phytonutrients that may help arthritis, while blueberries and strawberries have may also be of special value.

Giving up animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs, and replacing them with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, may be just what you need to feel limber again!

Vegan Men Got Testosterone!

OK, gentlemen listen up! Vegans have just as much testosterone as meat eaters! Images of burly cavemen bringing home meat may have men thinking that steaks and burgers are key to masculinity, but it’s just not true.  According to the lead doctor in the latest medical research conducted at the Miami University medical school, “The old idea that men needed to consume a traditional diet with plenty of meat to have a healthy testosterone level was based on pure conjecture, not based on evidence.” The latest study showed that vegans have as much testosterone as meat eaters. This was even true of vegans who eat a lot of junk vegan food, although we think vegans should go easy on the junk food for other health reasons. 

While this research may be the latest to show that vegan men have as much testosterone as others, it’s not the first. Back in 2000, doctors at Oxford University found that not only did vegans have enough testosterone, but that they even had a little more than meat eaters. Going even further back, doctors at Oxford in 1990 also found that vegans had just as much testosterone as meat eaters. Take special note: consuming soy does not affect testosterone levels.

Testosterone is the primary male hormone and is responsible for the development of primary sexual development, which includes testicular descent, sperm formation, enlargement of the penis and testes, and increasing libido. Testosterone is also involved in regulating secondary male characteristics, which are those responsible for masculinity. These secondary sex characteristics include male hair patterns, vocal changes, and voice deepening, anabolic effects which include growth spurts in puberty and skeletal muscle growth.

There’s more good news. Testosterone is important in having erections. Besides having plenty of testosterone, following a vegan diet confers other advantages when it comes to erectile dysfunction.

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