Category Archives: Health

Grocery shopping tips during the COVID-19 pandemic

Here are a few tips for safely getting your groceries during COVID 19 (coronavirus) pandemic:

In the grocery store

Grocery shopping with maskIf you’re going to the grocery store, try to go when it’s not crowded. Since the virus can be transmitted through close contact with other individuals, the key to social distancing is by avoiding large groups of people. But if you don’t get your timing right and find yourself at the grocery store with a lot of people, get what you need and leave as soon as you can. Don’t dally! Read more

Pandemics start by eating animals

Covid 19 poster

Diseases that come to humans from animals are called zoonoses. The current corona virus epidemic, as well as the Flu, Ebola and other diseases, all started by eating animals, thus exposing humans to viruses that emerge from animals. Once that happens, the virus can spread from person to person, as well as from animals, and a pandemic can start.

In Wuhan, China, the alarmingly contagious virus currently spreading around the world, has been identified as a zoonotic coronavirus, similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus, and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus. This marks the third re-emergence this century of a zoonotic coronavirus.

Public health officials suspect that the current outbreak may have originated at a live-animal market in Wuhan. Selling and eating wild animals, disrupting ecosystems, and destroying forests all contribute to the risks of disease-causing viruses spreading into human populations. Read more

Reducing the risk of thyroid disease

Thyroid woman

An enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter

A plant-based diet doesn’t just reduce your risk of heart disease or type 2 diabetics, but has benefits for the health of your thyroid as well. The thyroid gland is critical for maintaining a healthy body. Thyroid hormones have functions ranging from control of metabolism, heart beat and reproductive function.

Millions of people in America suffer from hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, most commonly in the form of Grave’s disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which are autoimmune diseases.  Those following a plant-based diet are much less susceptible to autoimmune diseases in general and thyroid disease is no exception. Vegans have been shown to experience a 22% lower risk of hypothyroidism, and a 51% risk of hyperthyroidism.

However, there are a few things those following a plant based should do for optimal thyroid health. Most vegans get enough iodine in their diet, but many don’t!

Iodine deficiency can lead to a variety of medical problems at all ages. This is a special concern for pregnant women. Children of mothers having an iodine deficiency during pregnancy may have mental retardation, deaf mutism, spasticity and short stature. Congenital hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency is the most common cause of preventable mental retardation in the world. Iodine deficiency may also be a factor in the development of breast cancer, so consuming sufficient iodine may help protect against this all too common cancer.

It’s important to get enough iodine your diet. There’s usually enough iodine in the different foods we eat. Some foods that are a good choice for iodine include black eyed peas, navy beans and whole wheat bread. If you’re not on a sodium restricted diet, iodized salt, as is commonly sold in the supermarkets, can be very helpful and has a good track record of preventing iodine deficiency. However, the salt in commercially prepared food is not iodized.

It’s also important not to get too much iodine. Seaweed can contain high levels of iodine. It’s fine to eat various kinds of seaweed as long as it’s in moderation.

The message is clear. A plant-based diet will reduce your risk of both hyper- and hypothyroidism. Getting an adequate amount of iodine will enhance the health of your thyroid gland even further.

See our professional level article

We’re cool with choline

Choline foodsThe next chapter in usual scare tactic of “if you follow a plant-based diet, you’ll be missing something and get into all kinds of trouble” is choline.

A new opinion piece in the British Medical Journal—by an author with egg and meat industry ties and who is concerned with “accelerated food trends towards plant-based diets/veganism”—is stirring up all kinds of confusion about choline, so we thought we’d clear the air and share the facts. Read more

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? Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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