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Why Going Meatless Is The New Black

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Why Going Meatless Is The New Black

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Monday health lesson! Since Monday is known as ‪#‎MeatlessMonday‬ let's tackle the issue of meat!

1) Let's talk about the sustainability of consuming meat. It takes about 2,500 gallons of clean water to produce one pound of beef. Already 780 million people do not have access to clean water! See point number 4 for more on this sustainability issue of consuming meat. California is in record drought. How can we continue to do nothing about this crisis? Not having water is a life/death issue. Eating meat is not essential to life. (Amazing Race aside!) 

2) Ninety-nine percent of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms (pack animals into tight or confined spaces, caged, no outdoor air, unclear air inside the pens, unnatural reproduction, short lifespan). In addition, these factory farms use hormone and antibiotic (the meat industry uses 80 percent of all the antibiotics in the U.S.) injections (make the cows fatter to slaughter faster to get paycheck faster). When a person eats this kind of "meat" they are ingesting those hormones and antibiotics which leads to many health problems and diseases (early puberty, hormonal issues), It's ironic to me that people don't like when athletes/humans inject steroids but seem to have no problem when it comes to meat and dairy. You can't have one and not the other. Why is it okay for animals to be injected, but not humans? It doesn't make sense.

3) Most people aren't even eating "real meat"! As the above point states, 99 percent of meat is factory farm meat which is fake meat. So if a person chooses to eat meat, they MUST know where it came from, how it was raised, what it ate, if given hormones/antibiotics. It must be real meat on a stick. Not hormones on a stick. Lesson: you eat what it eats. (Think about it.)

4) Here's a great way to see how much water your eating lifestyle uses (i.e. consuming meat). Many times we just go about our day without evening blinking or breathing- we're just going through the motions. Life is about connecting to whatever you are doing, eating, living, breathing! By getting back to the basics and making a connection to what you are about to eat, drink, move, etc, you will life will begin to make sense.

5) If you decide to keep eating meat, please make sure it is local, raised humanely, grass-fed, NO hormones/antibiotics, and always, always, organic. You can't make something unhealthy, healthy. Someone recently asked me if homemade pulled pork made in a smoker or chicken on a smoker was healthier. When I asked what kind of meat he was buying he replied "Costco". Health starts from the ground up - literally. If the soil is dead [GMOs from RoundUp, no crop rotation, no field rest], the food will be dead. If the animal is dead (hormones, antibiotics, caged, etc), the meat is dead. No amount of "healthy" BBQ sauce or dressings will make something healthy. Really, really look at what kind of meat you are buying. Is it really meat to begin with? Remember, your purchases say so much about you and what you say you stand for!   

6) Make fresh, organic, real plants the main attraction on your plate. If you must, make meat a very little side portion. There is no compelling reason to make meat the center of attraction. If you eat meat 3x a day, start by eating 1x a day and then a few days a week. Switch from meat protein to beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, Hemp Hearts, quinoa...see how many wonderful options there are?!

7) Vegetarian lifestyles reduce greenhouse gases by 33 percent and mortality by 20 percent (see link below). A plant-based lifestyle is more than just not eating meat, it's about caring for the earth, land, air, water, people. If we don't have an earth we have none of those things.

8) Going meat free helps prevent cancer (red meat is directly associated with colon cancer), heart disease, obesity, diabetes to name a few. Meat

9) Lunchables, hotdogs, McD's, Burger King, etc products are not meat but disease in wrapper. Lunchables ingredients: - Hydrogenated Oils - Artificial Flavors - Mechanically Separated Chicken - MSG - Sodium Nitrites

I probably don't have to tell you that these ingredients lead to disease, cancer, obesity...not cool.

10) Compassion. I think most of us say we are compassionate people but I wonder if that's really, really true? Like I've said many times our purchases say a lot about what we stand for, what we believe, and how we live. If we're eating fast death (aka, fast "food"), Big Food, etc, we're not having compassion for our earth, land, air, water, animals, people. It's high time that we look at what we are buying and make adjustments.

So, what do you eat? Plants! Lots and lots of organic plants! Check out Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts. Quinoa, chia seeds, kale, nuts, seeds- the earth is full of protein- without eating animals.

As in the above points, if you must eat meat, make sure it meets (meats?!) these criteria: - local - organic - pastured raised (especially with chickens/eggs) - grass fed - no added hormones or antibiotics (organic will take care of this)

And begin to eat less meat and more fresh, local organic plants! Your health, earth, air, water will thank you!

Note:

I (Sarah) am a strong, healthy ultra endurance athlete on a 100% organic, real food, plant-based lifestyle. Proof that (organic) plants really are awesome!

Sources cited plus resources:

>> 2,500 gallons of water: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/factoids.htm >> John Robbins on water and meat:http://www.earthsave.org/environment/water.htm >> Clean water: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/ >> What is a factory farm? http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/what-factory-farm >> Hormones in meat: http://www.sustainabletable.org/258/hormones >> Health and added hormones:http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_5543.cfm >> Vegetarian lifestyles: http://grist.org/list/vegetarians-live-longer-pollute-less-and-you-no-longer-have-to-take-their-word-for-it/ >> Preventing disease and certain cancers with plant-based lifestyle:http://plantbaseddietitian.com/plant-based-diet-benefits/ >> How to go plant-based: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/go-plant-based/

>> Meat industry uses 80% of all the antibiotics in the U.S.

>> Facebook pages to like and follow: Moxie DietitianNo Meat AthletePlant-Based DietitianSarah Stanley Inspired LivingBrendan BrazierMy Kind of Life

Cheers to a healthy life!

Cover photo credit: Nicholas Tonelli

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 War On Obesity

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War On Obesity

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First, it was the mantra “fat makes you fat.” Now it is the mantra that “carbs make you fat.” Perhaps the next hot topic will be “protein makes you fat”??? The problem with these reductionist viewpoints about food is that we ignore the fundamental issues in our Westernized food system. Our bodies need all major macronutrients at varying levels. Inherently, fats, carbohydrates, and protein are not bad for our bodies and each macronutrient plays important roles for normal body functioning. Additionally, there are many “right ways” to eat, perhaps some are also inherently better than others when it comes to disease risks and outcomes. However, getting hung-up in our “dietary-tribes”, as Andy Bellatti, MS, RD suggests, largely ignores the common thread to many healthy dietary patters---healthy diets are relatively low in processed foods, trans fats, added sugars, and artificial ingredients. Ultimately, it is the overall quality and dietary patterns that either promote or prevent diseases. Reductionism about food can also undermine the importance of creating sustainable food systems that promote not only good health for our nation, but also promote good health for our global population and the Earth. I recently published a blog post in response to the “war on fat” that was featured in TIME magazine. I was troubled by the journalist’s misrepresented, and possibly skewed viewpoint on what has fueled the fire for America’s obesity and chronic disease crisis. It appeared to me that the journalist’s main conclusion is that carbohydrates, regardless of where they come from, make people fat and cause heart disease. While the journalist does makes some valid points, such that fat is important in our diets and that Americans are eating too much refined carbohydrates, he did miss key points and many other possible causes for the rise of chronic diseases and obesity in America. When talking about the rise of chronic disease, we cannot ignore the role trans fat has had in the food supply, the rise of fast food establishments, health disparities, factory farmed animal products, and increased consumption of food eaten away from the home. We cannot ignore the fact that many Americans are not even meeting the recommendations for whole fruits and vegetables. My response to TIME can be found here: “10 key points on the “war against obesity”

The approach to solving America’s health crisis suggested by the journalist appears biased towards a fairly low carb, high fat, and high protein diet. While low carbohydrate diets can help people lose weight, there is also evidence that a whole, foods plant-based diet can do the same. So rather than continuing to foster American’s obsession with reductionism about nutrients, I believe TIME’s main message should have been more like this: “Eat more plants! Eat less highly processed and refined foods! Learn to cook from scratch!” I think most health providers would agree that Americans need to eat less fast-food, sugary beverages, fried food, chips, cookies, candies….and so on, and learn how to prepare and enjoy eating more fruits and vegetables in their natural state.

As health professionals and consumers, we also need to start talking more about how we can create a healthy population, while also creating a healthy planet. For example, factory farmers, which have been created to increase production of animal products for a growing population, are largely contributing to many of our environmental and climate change issues around the world. Suggesting a high consumption of animal products may not be a sustainable solution for solving our global health crisis (see: UNEP 2012 on Meat and greenhouse gas emissions, Johns Hopkins on antibiotic resistance).

When making recommendations on how to solve our American health crisis, we must also consider the implications this has on our food system. What ramifications do these recommendations have on our environment? Are these recommendations sustainable and cost-effective solutions that ALL Americans (including lower income populations) and ALL nations can participate in?

Many institutions, non- profit, and/or advocate organizations would agree that shifting our plates to include whole, plant-based foods is a solution for both mitigating the effects of climate change and improving human health (see: Johns Hopkins Meatless Monday, Why Hunger on climate change, Harvard Sustainability on plant-based, World Watch on “Is meat Sustainable?”, Food Tank on meat’s water footprint, Johns Hopkins on health and environment, University of Minnesota on feeding 4 billion more. Research Articles: Masset et al. 2014, Scarborough et al 2014 )

Tips for prevent chronic disease and protect the Earth:

Eat whole plant-based foods, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Eat combinations of the macronutrients at each meal/ snack (e.g. peanut butter (fat/ protein) with an apple (carbohydrate)). Learn to listen to your body for hunger, fullness, and thirst cues. Strive to eat seven total servings of fruits and vegetables for optimal health benefits. If you eat animal products, purchase organic and consume less of them (see: Myths of Protein). Try a few meatless meals per week, or maybe become a weekday vegetarian. Eat less highly processed foods and fast food, and learn to cook/ prepare foods from their natural state (e.g. making baked sweet potato fries rather than McDonald’s french fires; eating homemade kale chips rather than Doritos). If feasible, choose to eat all or majority organic foods. When possible, shop at local farmers markets to support small farmers in your communities. And don't forget Michael Pollen's famous quote, Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

In good health,

Kristina

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Cover photo credit: Tawest64

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Make It A Meatless Summer

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Make It A Meatless Summer

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  Summertime is a great time to explore more meatless meals, especially with the abundance of fruits and vegetables in the Farmer’s Market! Over the past few months, I have written several blogs about the many reasons to cutback on eating meat and adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

  1. HEALTH. Meat, especially red and processed meat increases the risk of cancer. A new report on the cancer guidelines suggests cutting back on meat. Eating more whole, plant-based foods not only decreases your risk of chronic diseases like cancer, but it also can increase the amount of fiber and phytochemicals in your diet (My blog on Cancer).
  2. COST. I took a grocery store tour several months ago and decided that I could feed about 60+ people quinoa and lentils for $18.48 vs. a 3.5 pound bag (about 6-9 breasts) of organic chicken at $20- $21. Swapping expensive meat with economical plant-based proteins can help save money and/or increase spending on organic fruits and vegetables! Farmers markets or CSAs are great ways to support your local communities and take advantage of great prices on fresh food! (my blog on myths about protein).
  3. ENVIRONMENT. Livestock and animal products are not sustainable; at least at the rates Americans (and other “developed” countries) eat them. Not only do meat and animal products contribute to green house gases, larger farms have also created astronomical environmental impacts, such as dead zones in the oceans and rivers from manure runoffs. (My blog on stewardship).
  4. INCREASE FOOD PRODUCTION FOR HUMANS TO EAT. Lowering the production of meat and dairy, Round River Farmers in Minnesota discovered that the region of Western Lake Superior would be able to produce enough food to feed the entire community. A Standard American Diet (SAD) would require over 500,000 acres of land and would only produce enough food for 83% of the region. Conversely, a diet lower in meat and dairy would require about 375,000 acres of land and would feed 100% of the region! Shifting towards a plant-based diet would decrease the supply and demand of animal products. means less land needed to grow feed for animals and less land needed to house animals in Factory Farms or land for grazing. Instead of using the land for soy, corn, and animals, the land could be used to grow enough organic fruits and vegetables to meet dietary recommendations for Americans...... because currently, we fail at that. (My blog from the Healthy Lives Conference).

Learning about healthier meatless options and exploring new recipes can be an exciting adventure! Reframe your perspective--- think about it as adding flavor and health to your life!! 

Great plant-based sources of protein: beans (chickpeas, black beans, soybeans, edamame, kidney beans, mung beans…..), lentils, split peas, tofu, nuts, seeds (chia, hemp), quinoa, nutritional yeast, and tempeh!

Here are some meatless-meal ideas to get you started:

1. Swap the Burger for a bean burger or a Portobello mushroom.

Portobello Mushroom and Cashew Cheese Burger

Italian Bean Balls

Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Spicy BBQ Chickpea Burgers

Quarter Pounder Beet Burger

2. Grill  fruits and veggies rather than meat.

Grilled Veggie Kabobs

3. If you don’t have celiac disease, try some homemade seitan!

Seitan ribs

Seitan Negimaki

4. Try a quinoa salad!

Quinoa salad with black bean and mango

Grilled Asparagus and chili orange quinoa spring rolls

Curried Coconut Quinoa

5. Almond or pistachio crusted tofu instead of fish

My pistachio crusted tofu recipe

6. Tempeh instead of chicken

Sweet and Sour Tempeh

 7.  Bean or Lentils for a fiber and protein packed meal

Lentil Tacos

BBQ Chili (my brothers love this one over baked sweet potato fries!)

Lemon dill bean salad

Spicy Lentil Sloppy Joes

Chickpea “tuna” Salad

8. Zucchini "pasta" salad with a peanut sauce

Zucchini noodles with a peanut sauce

9. Sarah and I also dig these Mung Bean and Black Bean pastas. 23-25 grams of protein per serving!

mung beans
mung beans

Super tasty with a peanut sauce, tomato sauce, homemade pesto, cashew "blue cheese" dressing, or homemade salad dressing!

10. Check out my Pinterest Boards or the Meatless Monday Pinterest Board for more Meatless Summer ideas! 

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In good health,

Kristina

To learn more about plant-based living, find me on Twitter and Facebook!

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Cancer: The Cure Has Been Found!

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Cancer: The Cure Has Been Found!

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“I can’t change my genes……” is the excuse people often make for their lifestyle habits. What if science told you that YOU CAN protect and modify your genes' activities!? Because science says you can! The foods you eat, beverages you drink, and the lifestyle you live can either turn cancer cells on or off!! Unlike other diseases, cancer is a silent disease. It can take almost 10 years from the exposure to a cancer-causing event until cancer is actually detected in the body. Cancer is the 2nd most prevalent cause of death for adults in the United States--- 577, 190 Americans die each year from cancer (1). Genes do increase the risk of an individual developing cancer. However, the American Cancer Society reports that only 5% of cancers are “strongly hereditary”, meaning that your genes have a greater impact on development of cancer than environment (1). For most cancer production, however, lifestyle choices have a greater impact on the development of cancer! Lack of physical activity, overweight/obesity, and poor diet contribute to 1/3 of all cancer deaths, while exposure to tobacco contributes to 1/3 of cancer deaths (2). Cut the smoking habit, and you will do yourself and your neighbors a huge favor!!! We must also teach children about PREVENTION of cancer at a young age… exposing children to healthy lifestyle choices NOW because behaviors established in childhood track into adulthood (2), making behavior patterns more difficult to reverse or modify.

Guidelines for the American Cancer Society on Cancer Prevention recommend the following (1-2):

1. Maintain a healthy weight: 14-20% of all cancer deaths are attributed to overweight and obesity. Cancer risk increases with weight status due to hormone production and inflammation that are known to increase with unhealthy weight status.

2. Increase physical activity and REDUCE time spent sitting: Activity helps  maintenance of a healthy weight and reduces risk of all other chronic diseases. Aim for 300 minutes of moderate-intensity (walking, light dancing, yoga, golfing) or 150 minutes of vigorous activity (running, skating, aerobic activity, weight training) each week for optimal protection against cancer!

3. Eat a whole, plant-based diet: the American Cancer Society states: “Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods.” Eat a nutrient-dense diet, meaning foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber (e.g. fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains….) rather than foods that are high in added sugars, highly processed, and fried (e.g. pop, candy, chips, store-bought cookies, ice cream, traditional American french fries, refined flours and grains….). Don't rely on supplements to give you antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber—supplements don’t have the same protection as eating the whole plant-based foods (2).

4. EAT LESS MEAT (and animal products). “Current evidence supports approximately a 15-20% increased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum per 100 grams of red meat or 50 grams of processed meat consumed per day, while the evidence for some other cancers (e.g. esophagus, stomach, lung, pancreases, breast, prostate, stomach, endometrium, renal, and ovarian) is considered limited and suggestive”(2, pg 40). Further, the American Cancer Society states… “… there is little evidence to suggest that red meat is beneficial for chronic disease risk, and substantial evidence that it is likely to have harmful effects on all-cause mortality and cancer risk.” (2, pg 41). There are several reasons why animal protein increases cancer risk. Sorry bacon lovers! High-heat cooking, pan-frying, and grilling are known to produce carcinogens and mutagens (that promote cancer production in the body). Nitrates and nitrites in processed meats are also known carcinogens. Fish, though often promoted for it’s omega-3 fatty acids, also contains a high level of environmental pollutants (e.g. mercury, PCBs, dioxins), which are harmful at higher exposures. If you eat seafood, it's recommended to vary the kind of seafood eaten to avoid high exposures to any one pollutant (2). Additionally, the American Cancer Society states that they “do not make specific recommendations regarding calcium and dairy food intake for overall cancer prevention.” (2, pg. 50).

**Research for dairy and other animal-sourced foods tend to be mixed-- meaning some animal-sourced foods don't cause certain cancers, but promote others (e.g. dairy has been linked with prostate cancer, but not colon cancer). The American Cancer Society makes conservative recommendations about limiting animal-sourced foods. If you choose to eat animal products, consume less of them and opt for organic products (not processed, conventional, or factory farmed). However, keep in mind that there is a growing body of evidence that suggests animal-sourced foods play apart in cancer production (see references 6 and the Tedtalks below for more info). We know that plant-based foods can provide all essential nutrients (expect vitamin B12 which we recommend for all people over the age of 50!) and plants offer cancer protection with all their phytonutrients and fiber! Research from quality longitudinal studies show that vegans  and vegetarians have lower rates of cancers than non-vegetarians (7).

5. Limit alcohol. Either drink within LIMITS (2 servings of alcohol for men, 1 serving of alcohol for women, per day**) or don’t drink at all. There is a fine line where alcohol no longer has beneficial, health-promoting properties. Overconsumption of alcohol increases risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, breast, liver, and colon. The American Cancer Society states, “Compared with non-drinkers, there is a 10% to 12% higher increase of female breast cancer associated with each drink per day.”….. “Consumption of 3 drinks per day is associated with a 1.4-fold higher risk of colorectal cancer.” (2, pg. 43). It is believed that the acetaldehyde from alcohol metabolism causes damage to the DNA in normal cells (2, pg. 43).

William Li, ask the question in his Tedtalk, “Can we eat to starve cancer?”

Nutrition, genes, and cancer

Though it is exciting news to hear that your diet and lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk of cancer, The American Cancer Society says that no lifestyle offers COMPLETE protection against cancer. We live in a world full of toxic chemicals..... BUT don’t let that stop you, however, from limiting your exposure to chemicals in your foods, in your drinks, in your cleaning products, and in your beauty products! Living in prevention is beautiful! Physical activity and eating a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods will decrease your risk of other chronic disease (like cardiovascular disease, diabetes…) and help you live to your optimal potential every single day! Make each second of your life count!

When in doubt, just do like the centenarians!

References and resources for more specifics on nutrition and cancer:

1. American Cancer Society (2012). Cancer Facts and Figures 2012. Retrieved: here.

2. Kushi, L. et al. (2012). American cancer of society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention; reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 62: 30-67. Retrieved: here.

3. ** A drink is equal to 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of spirits/hard liquor. Read more on Alcohol from Harvard: Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits

4. Phytates from plant-foods are often scrutinized by some health professionals for being an “anti-nutrient”, however, phytates are considered to be a phytochemical and help protect against cancer. A guide to phytochemicals from the American Institute for Cancer Research can be found: here. More on phytochemicals from Stanford: here. Cancer Society on Phytochemicals: here.

5. Soy is one of those foods that the general population believes to causes cancer. However, a body of evidence suggests otherwise. If you consume soy, opt for non-GMO, organic soy products (e.g. edamame, whole soy beans, tofu, miso, tempeh) and don’t eat more than 3-5 servings per day. Here are some good readings: How much soy is too much?,  American Cancer Society on Soy: here,  Jack Norris, RD “Soy: What’s the Harm?” , Ginny Messina, R.D. “Soy Isoflavones and Estrogen”, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on Soy Safety, More on Soy from the American Institute for Cancer Research: here

6. Animal-sourced food and cancer: More on Cancer from Nutrition Facts, TMAO from animal products and increased chronic diseases, Animal Protein and the Cancer Promoter IGF-1 , Does too much iron from animal sources increase risk of cancer?, Harvard on dairy: Calcium Full Story, Animal foods and Cancer from The World Cancer Resource Center. NIH: Risk in Red Meat?, NIH: Pan-Fried Red Meat Increases Risk for Prostate Cancer

7. Limo Linda University research study results on cancer and diet: here , "Why vegan women have fewer female cancers?", "Vegan Men: more testosterone, but less cancer", "How Plant-Based to Lower IGF-1?"

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In good health,

Kristina

To learn more on how you can prevent disease find me on Twitter and Facebook!

Cover photo credit: Tonya

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