Category Archives: Health

A plant-based diet helps fertility

We want to have children, but we’re vegan! Some people wonder how being vegan will affect their ability to conceive. The good news is that a healthy plant-based diet can actually help fertility.

Let’s start with the men. Meat, especially processed meat, has a detrimental effect on male fertility. The more meat a man eats, the fewer and less active his sperm. To dispel a myth, vegan men have the same testosterone levels as meat eaters. To dispel another myth, consuming soy does not affect testosterone levels in men. Boys raised on soy protein formulas showed no breast growth, no early puberty, no changes in their bones and no other signs of hormonal abnormalities. Vegan men have much less risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Vegetarian men produce 29 million more sperm per milliliter and the sperm are more active compared to meat-eaters, so a veg diet can definitely help with fertility.

Vegan women too have hormone levels comparable to those of meat-eaters. Vegan pregnancy has some advantages too. For instance, pregnant vegan women have a reduced risk of complications such excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and gallstones. Pregnant women following a well-planned plant-based diet also have a reduced risk of an infant being born with spina bifida, whereas a high meat diet doubles the risk of a baby being born with a cleft palate.

What about those turning to invitro fertilization? It turns out that eating plant protein increases the chance of pregnancy in IVF. Also a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil and low in red meat, has been shown to increase the chance of a successful pregnancy, so a healthy plant-based diet can make a big difference.

Many vegan men and women are fertile and give birth to healthy babies. Congratulations to them all!

Raising meat is a threat to produce farmers!

Raising meat poses a threat to crop farmers, their produce and our health!

Even at a distance, raising meat poses a danger to human health. A new report by the FDA highlights the danger of farm animal operations located close to produce growing fields. Bacteria from farm animals that cause food poisoning can travel over to the produce by water, dust in the wind or via the farmworkers. All kinds of produce are vulnerable to bacterial contamination.

Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating food contaminated with disease-causing bacteria or the toxins produced by the bacteria. These are intestinal bacteria and originate from the guts of animals, since only animals and humans have intestines. Given the large numbers of animals on a factory farm, and the waste they produce, it’s trouble waiting to happen. Bacteria that can cause food poisoning include Salmonella, Staph and E. Coli.

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Diabetes – Now you can do something about it

Vegan mealPlant foods are powerful medicine for diabetes (Type II or Adult Onset). Medical researchers have discovered that a plant based diet is very effective for both preventing and helping to reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes. In some cases it’s even more powerful than drugs.

It’s a good thing too. America needs strong medicine when it comes to pre-diabetes and diabetes. With 11 percent of people over  the age of 20 having diabetes, plus 23 percent with pre-diabetes, over a third of the country either has diabetes or is on their way to getting it. As if diabetes itself wasn’t bad enough, the complications can be even worse. Diabetes raises the risk of other health problems, ranging from heart disease to kidney damage, to blindness.

But now for the good news. You can reduce your risk of getting diabetes by just taking the following medicines: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts. The more you take, the more protection you can get. For instance, researchers found that those following semi-vegetarian diets, pesco vegetarian, lacto ovo-vegetarian, and vegan diets, reduced their risk of diabetes by 28%, 51%, 61% and 72% respectively. The pattern here is clear: the more plant foods you eat, the more protection you get. Vegetarians also had the best scores for the seven major risk factors for pre-diabetes.

What about if you already have diabetes? Even here plant foods are powerful medicine. In one study, conducted at George Washington University, 46% of diabetics were able to stop or significantly reduce their medications in only 6 months. Even more impressive is how the powerful plant-based diet reduced blood sugar by about 25% more than the usual treatment – the drug metformin combined with the standard American Diabetes Association diet. Washington state physician Gregory Scribner MD, an internist specializing in diabetes, tells his patients, “A switch to a healthy vegetarian diet can reverse many of the complications of diabetes, even in advanced cases, and can often prevent the disease from occurring in the first place.”

It turns out that plant-based diets can even help with some of the most difficult to treat complications, such as the painful peripheral neuropathy that diabetics can get which causes pain in the extremities. For instance, in one study, 81% of those following a low fat, high fiber, vegan diet had very significant improvements in only one month.  These research studies seem to translate well into the community. For instance one man, who attended one of our free Vegetarian Solution classes a couple of years ago, decided to give a vegetarian diet a try to help his diabetes symptoms.  Within a couple of months he was delighted to find his neuropathy pain had abated.  He came back to our next class to learn more and to tell us about how it had helped him.

The message is clear – vegetarian, and especially vegan, diets are powerful medicines when it comes to diabetes. If you’d like to learn more, we’re here to help.  We have classes coming up in January 2015, including a free Vegetarian Solution class, and a full Food for Life Diabetes series of classes, where you can learn more about how a vegetarian diet can help and enjoy delicious cooking demonstrations.  Additionally, our recommended health books page can give you some suggested reading.

See professional level information about Type 2 diabetes

Marked for better health

Several studies have now shown that vegetarians, and especially vegans, have better biomarkers than meat eaters. OK, great, but what the heck is a biomarker?

A biomarker is a chemical substance found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of either disease or health. The good news is that vegetarians and vegans have more of the biomarkers that indicate good health and less of the ones that indicate a disease process.

Studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians have lower levels of biomarkers that indicate inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis than meat eaters. This puts them at a lower risk of getting these diseases.

Even more impressive is a recent study that showed that vegetarians appear to have a healthier biomarker profile than meat-eaters for adults of any age and weight, and is also unaffected by smoking and alcohol consumption. Now this does not mean vegetarians can go out and start smoking and abusing alcohol, but it does show the power of a plant- based diet and that the greater positive health impact of a vegetarian diet can even outweigh the negative effect of smoking and alcohol consumption.

Parkinson’s Disease – the important role of the food we eat

Parkinson’s Disease is second only to Alzheimer’s as the most common human neurodegenerative disorder in the United States. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects physical movements and over the years causes a progressive disability that can be slowed or even temporarily improved but not halted. So far no therapy has been proven to stop its progression.

Not surprisingly, diet is a major risk factor. The western, meat-centered diet, especially from meat fat, dairy and eggs, increases the risk of getting Parkinson’s, while plant fats do not increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. In fact, consuming plant foods decreases the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. There are two main processes where plant foods can help.

Inflammation is one part of the disease process. A plant-based diet is known to reduce the level of inflammation which may also affect the progression of Parkinson’s disease. One way plant-based diets do this is due to the amount of fiber consumed, which only comes from plant foods. Fiber helps the so-called good bacteria in our guts thrive. The good bacteria produce a substance called butyrate which is known to help reduce inflammation. Parkinson’s disease patients have, on average, lower levels of butyrate, and there have been some intriguing studies that show a connection between the bacteria in the intestine and Parkinson’s disease.

Another part of the disease process is due to oxidative stress. There are substances in the body, including the brain, known as reactive oxygen species, or ROS for short, that cause what’s known as oxidative stress, which has been shown to be a major part of the disease process. However, plant foods are rich in antioxidants that counter and prevent oxidative stress, thus having a beneficial effect.

For those who already have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a plant-based diet can make it easier to take anti-Parkinson’s disease medication and make them more easily absorbed. In a case study, one patient was able to make a large reduction in the dose of his medication and a large improvement in his symptoms as well, by following a plant-based diet.

While more research needs to be done, the plant-based diet has a role to play in the prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. We recently wrote a review article for the medical community on the research that is already available on this topic, and we’re delighted that it is being published in the Open Access Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery. See professional level article.

Veg Diet doesn’t protect against Covid 19

A recent article from a study in India found an association between nonvegetarian diets and an increased risk of getting the virus that causes the current pandemic. Unfortunately, this study lacks the specificity to draw any reliable conclusions. It also only showed a relative effect that is not even in the same galaxy as immunity from the virus!

However, some people are falsely claiming that this study shows that vegetarian and vegan diets confer protection from the virus. Don’t fall for this false notion.  R.V. Asokan, secretary general of the Indian Medical Association, told AFP that there is “absolutely no truth” in the claim.

It is vitally important to understand that a plant-based diet is NOT a substitute for the vaccine for Covid-19. While we have written and spoken on the many different health benefits of a plant-based diet, protection from getting the Covid-19 disease is not one of them!

The vaccines that are approved for use in the United States have proven safety and effectiveness with minimal side effects, and while nothing in medicine is 100%, the degree of protection is very high. To protect yourself and your friends and family, we recommend that all adults get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible, even if you’ve already had the disease.

The only exception is where specific individuals have been advised by their doctor not to do so, such as those who are immunocompromised. Even if you think that you’re unlikely to get sick yourself, please consider the possibility that you could transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable and unable to get the vaccine because of their health status. By having a high percentage of the population vaccinated, we help reduce the amount of virus circulating and thus the number of people getting sick. The sooner this happens, the sooner we can all get our lives back to normal.

The pain that won’t go away

It’s called Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and it really hurts. Ouch!

Many type 2 diabetic patients experience persistent pain in their legs and feet. Later the pain can come from the arms and hands. The pain can come out of nowhere or come from a bump or bruise. It’s often described as burning, pins and needles, shooting, aching, jabbing, sharp, cramping, tingling, or cold.

It’s very hard to treat. No single drug exists to prevent or reverse neuropathic changes or to provide total pain relief. Partial pain relief is often the best that can be hoped for. Sometimes, the pain is so severe that opiates are needed, but they carry the risk of addiction.

Now for the good news. It turns out that a vegan diet, also known as a plant-based diet, can really help.

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Give this book to your doctor!

We understand the problem. For years you’ve recognized the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet, and you’ve wanted your doctor to know how to treat you with a plant-based diet, but your doctor didn’t know how. They hadn’t learned about it in medical school, or since they graduated. They don’t feel able to offer a treatment to you that they’re not familiar with, and they want every treatment to have a solid basis in science. We agree with them.

We understand and we have done something about it!

Our new book, The Prevention and Treatment of Disease with a Plant-Based Diet was written just for your doctor. This book gives your doctor the ability to treat patients with a plant-based diet, as an additional option to medication and surgery.  We went far beyond heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The book contains 25 articles we’ve written and had published in peer-reviewed medical journals, including:

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World’s first all-vegan hospital

The first all-vegan hospital has just made history. The honor goes to Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon. We congratulate them and hope to see many other hospitals follow suit.

The hospital says, “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk….the very food[s] that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.” The hospital goes on to say,

“There’s an elephant in the room that no one wants to see:

  • When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in a hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital.
  • When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals.
  • When adopting a plant-based exclusive diet has been scientifically proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them.

We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions, taking the courage to look at the elephant in the eye. We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms.”

It’s long past due that all hospitals come out of denial and recognize the elephant in the room. Patients deserve nothing less.

Chronic Kidney Disease treated by plant-based diet

Kidneys cartoonIt’s National Kidney Month!  Here’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 vegans 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

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