Category Archives: Health

Keto Diet – the latest fad diet

Keto-FoodsDon’t fall for the latest low-carb diet fad, the keto diet. We told you not to fall for it back when the Atkins diet was all the rage, and we’re telling you the same thing now.  An excessively low-carbohydrate diet which focuses on consuming more protein (Atkins) or fat (Keto), and cuts out important plant-based foods such as whole grains, beans, fruit and root vegetables, has not been shown to be healthy and could have some very dangerous side effects. On the other hand, a whole food plant-based diet has been shown to be healthy over the whole lifespan, to prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases, and to be very effective at causing weight loss, resulting in just as much weight loss as the keto diet. Why take chances?

The keto diet is very low carb, high fat and protein that is very heavily made up of animal foods. Proponents claim that by not consuming carbs, and creating a state of ketosis, your body will burn fat for energy and you’ll lose some weight as a result.  Many people do initially lose weight on a keto diet, which is why it is so popular, but this is a risky way to do so.

Ketones are waste products caused by using fat for energy resulting in ketosis, an elevated level of ketones in the blood. Ketones are not meant to be the main source of energy in the human body.  Under normal conditions one might find 2% of energy needs met by them, say after a night’s sleep and before breakfast. They are present in small amounts in the blood of healthy individuals during fasting or prolonged exercise.

Ordinarily ketones in the blood are eliminated in urine by the kidneys. In small amounts, they serve to indicate that the body is breaking down fat, but high levels of ketones are abnormal. On the keto diet, the levels of ketones created are more than the kidneys usually have to handle.  Scientists are worried that this will cause damage to the kidneys. The keto diet works by creating an abnormal situation in the body. By contrast, a plant-based diet makes our blood and body more normal.

cyclistLow-carb diets like the keto do appear to lead to some short-term weight loss, but they’re not significantly more effective than any other commercial or self-help diet. They don’t appear to improve athletic performance. In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. Weiss says that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.

The list of worries and risks for those on the keto diet is long:

The American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology, and the Obesity Society have concluded that there is not enough evidence to suggest that low carbohydrate diets such as the ketogenic diet provide health benefits to the heart.

Stomach painThe lack of fiber in this diet makes it more likely you’ll experience gastrointestinal distress such as constipation.

Other potential risks include kidney stones, several vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and decreased bone mineral density which could lead to osteoporosis.

It’s also common for people starting the diet to experience flu-like symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue. This side effect is so common that there’s a name for it: the keto flu. This is due to the body reacting to the abnormal state of ketosis.  As the body adjusts to this new state, the symptoms improve, but that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy.

Experts say the plan may be particularly risky for some groups of people:

  • People who have had their gallbladder removed. The gallbladder holds bile, which is necessary in fat digestion. Without this organ, you can have problems on a high-fat diet.
  • Multiple Sclerosis sufferers. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society raises questions about the long-term safety of the diet for MS, and cautions about the possible side effects, like fatigue and constipation.
  • People with type I diabetes. On the keto diet, Type I diabetics could find their blood sugar affected to dangerous levels.

This diet is tough to follow. Less than half the people who try it can stick with it. In fact, in a review of 11 studies involving adults on the keto diet, which was published in January 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Neurology, researchers calculated only a 45 percent compliance rate among participants.

The hype around this diet is tempered by the fact that researchers just don’t know about the long-term safety of following a high-fat, high-protein diet (especially one high in saturated fat). What studies there are either were very short-term, or have been done on rats and mice rather than actual human beings.

Metal shopping cart with grocery items. Isolated over white background.

We’ll come right to it: the plant-based diet remains the healthiest diet. It is effective for steady and sustained weight loss over a long period. In a recent University of South Carolina study, those placed on a vegan diet lost more weight than any other diet tested.

Not only does the vegan diet work for weight loss, it also prevents and treats other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer. The plant-based diet normalizes physiology and biochemistry, and lab values are moved to normal values. This shows that it is a healthy diet that our bodies are designed to thrive on.

The science behind a plant-based diet is very strong and it’s been tested in people over entire lifetimes and even over several generations. Don’t fall for the hype of the latest fad diet.

A plant-based diet can help fight the opiate crisis!

Stomach painWe’ve all heard about the growing problem of opiate addiction in the United States. While there are several causes of this epidemic, one of them is addiction of patients being treated for chronic pain. It turns out that a plant-based, or vegan, diet can help prevent and even treat several diseases that result in chronic pain. Let’s look at a few examples.

Diabetics can develop diabetic peripheral neuropathy which causes pain in the leg that is often severe. It turns out that a plant-based diet can cut the risk of developing diabetes in the first place by more than 75%. For those already with neuropathy, a vegan diet can eliminate pain in over 70% of patients and the results are maintained long term.

The chest pain from angina can require strong pain medication to control. One medical study showed that a plant-based diet was able to result in a pain free status after 12 weeks. And of course, a plant-based diet cuts the risk of heart disease by half in the first place.

Over 1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The first way to avoid arthritic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis is not to get the disease in the first place. Those following vegetarian diet were shown to have only half the risk of rheumatoid arthritis of non vegetarians. For those who already have rheumatoid arthritis, a plant-based diet was shown to significantly reduce pain and stiffness.

Another example is the pain from gall stones. Almost 1 million Americans suffer from gall stones. While a plant-based diet can’t reduce the pain from gall stones, it can reduce the chance of getting them by 50%.

Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that affects 10 million Americans. Here, as in several other diseases, a plant-based diet can be a very effective treatment. Medical studies show that a plant-based diet reduces pain in fibromyalgia patients by 70%. These are a substantial results in an otherwise hard-to-treat disease.

While it will take more than a plant-based diet to solve the opiate addiction crisis, it does have a very important part to play by preventing several painful diseases and by reducing pain for those patients who already have it, thus reducing the need for pain medications.

Chronic Kidney Disease treated by plant-based diet

Kidneys cartoonHere’s the big news: a plant-based diet helps prevent and treat Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). This is a big deal because CKD is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States and sucks up 20% of the Medicare budget.

Vegans and vegetarians have a greatly decreased risk of kidney disease. One study showed that vegan have better kidney function than meat eaters. This only makes sense since vegetarians and vegans have much lower rates high blood pressure and diabetes two of the leading risk factors for kidney disease. While this is news to many people and patients, the medical researchers have known this for a long time.

Other studies show that a plant-based diet slows the rate of decline for those who already have kidney disease. This means holding off the need for kidney dialysis.

Now protein in the diet causes extra work in the kidneys of kidney disease patients, but only when the protein source comes from meat, fish, poultry dairy and eggs. Plant proteins don’t cause stress and this is one of the key advantages of a plant-based diet.

The kidneys have a vital role in keeping us healthy. They filter wastes products from the blood, keep our fluids in balance and help control our blood pressure. A plant-based diet gives the kidneys what they need to stay healthy all throughout our lives. As a bonus it also reduces the risk and treats other diseases such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and prostate cancer just to mention a few.

Prescribing a plant-based diet to patients at risk of or already suffering from chronic kidney disease seems like a simple solution which would lower the costs and the suffering that so many patients experience. Unfortunately, most doctors are not yet aware of the power of a plant-based diet to prevent and treat kidney disease and so don’t know to prescribe it to their patients. To help make doctors aware of this dietary option for preventing and treating chronic kidney disease, we wrote a detailed article addressing much of the research that has been done on this topic.  We’re pleased to say that this article was recently published in the medical journal, JOJ Urology and Nephrology.

Don’t blame the lettuce!

Romaine lettuceDon’t blame the lettuce! According to the Food and Drug Administration, the large E. coli outbreak which has just happened, caused by contaminated romaine lettuce, may have been caused by a factory farm.

A factory farm is a farm where the animals are crowded together in large numbers. Conditions are often abusive, and as we’ve seen from shocking videos, sometimes deliberately cruel.

E. coli bacteria live in the environment, animals’ intestines and in fecal matter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dangerous strains of E. coli, as well as salmonella and other foodborne pathogens, are derived from animal (and occasionally human) feces, and can end up in the ground water, streams and rivers. “The bacteria in animal waste could make their way into water one of two ways,” explained University of Florida food safety expert Keith Schneider. “Water can run downhill, especially after rain, and make it into an irrigation ditch, or water can seep into an underground aquifer.”

A likely reason for why romaine lettuce is susceptible to E. coli contamination is that the runoff from cattle reaches the irrigation water for fields where romaine lettuce grows, said Benjamin Chapman, an associate professor and a food safety specialist at N.C. State University in Raleigh. In similar outbreaks in the past, contaminated produce was traced back to neighboring livestock operations. In this case, the FDA surmises that the contaminated water was either used to irrigate the lettuce or mixed with pesticides (a common method of dilution) before being sprayed on the plants.

These kinds of outbreaks have been happening again and again. Not all the harm from animal agriculture is done by meat itself. Sometimes it’s right next door!

 

The Latest on Fish Oil

Fish Oil pillsSomething smells fishy when it comes to fish oil. It’s useless! A number of recent high quality studies have shown no benefit to fish oil.

According to the latest study from a medical school in England, there’s “good evidence that taking long-chain omega 3 (fish oil, EPA or DHA) supplements does not benefit heart health or reduce our risk of stroke or death from any cause.“

Another study, published in March 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed no benefit for fish oil on heart disease, stroke or any cause of death. A 2014 research letter in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, pointed out that in numerous randomized controlled studies, fish oil results in no reductions in fatal or nonfatal heart attacks and even cancer.

And it’s not a matter of how much you take. According to a 2012 study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, fish oil causes no reduction of “heart attacks, sudden death, angina, heart failures, strokes or death, no matter what dose of fish oil used.”

Unfortunately, many people continue to believe that fish oil will benefit them, based on the original endorsement of the American Heart Association back in 2002. All kinds of justification is given. One of the most common is that Eskimos, who eat a lot of fish, suffer from less heart disease.  The Canadian Journal of Cardiology calls that notion “wishful thinking”. It turns out that Eskimos don’t have any lower incidence of heart attacks than we do.

It’s time to leave the false premise of the benefits of fish oil at the bottom of the sea where it belongs!

See our previous articles on fish oil, the lack of benefits of fish for health, a world without fish, fish have feelings, and slavery in the fishing industry.

The end of effective antibiotics?

AntibioticsThis is serious. This could cost you your life! What if the medication your doctor gave you for an infection didn’t work? What if the second antibiotic didn’t work either? Blame the beef industry. According to a new study, sponsored by consumer and environmental groups, 23 out of 25 U.S. burger chains, including McDonald’s and Burger King, were found serving beef raised with the routine use of antibiotics.

Most of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to farm animals not people. In fact, 70% of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. go to food producing animals, and 43% of that goes to the beef industry. The result is that each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die as a result.

Here’s how it happens. Farmers routinely give cows antibiotics, often in their daily feed, to help them survive very harsh and unhealthy conditions on factory farms. The problems is that these antibiotics kill off only the susceptible bacteria, allowing resistant bacteria to take over. If a farm worker then comes in contact with the bacteria or gets infected with it, they will carry it into the wider community. Slaughterhouse workers can spread the resistant bacteria as well. Undercooked meat can also harbor these bacteria.

If you get infected with such bacteria, the antibiotic the doctor gives you might not work because the bacteria is already resistant to it. Other antibiotics may not work either. This is happening more and more frequently. Once bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, that means the ability of doctors to treat the infection becomes extremely limited, and that’s really scary.  It means that infections that were once really easily and commonly treated could actually now be fatal, and common medical procedures may no longer be possible because of the risk of infection without reliable antibiotics.

While some organizations are pushing for beef farmers to stop using antibiotics, they are finding this difficult to do while maintaining the intensive farming methods they currently use. However, this problem could be solved by many more people following a plant-based diet. Then there wouldn’t be a need for so many beef cattle to be raised intensively and fed antibiotics.  Avoiding meat would also be much healthier for us and much kinder for the animals, so everyone would win.

Fourth article published!

Medical journal with stethoscopeWe are happy to announce that our article, Rheumatoid Arthritis – Prevention and Treatment with a Plant-Based Diet, has been accepted by the peer-reviewed medical journal Orthopedics and Rheumatology Open Access Journal.

This is the latest in a series of articles we have been writing in medical journals in the hope of spreading these valuable research reviews to many more doctors around the world.  So far, we’ve also had articles published on Type 2 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease and Prostate Cancer in relevant medical journals. Read more

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