Hungry For Change, a movie from the makers of Food Matters, is hosting a FREE 10 Day Worldwide Online Premier MARCH 21 – 31 2012. I just watched the movie trailer and am really enthused about how eye-opening this film promises to be.
“This inspiring film has the power to transform your health!” ~Anthony Robbins
According to the producers:
HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weightloss and food industry don’t want you to know about. Deceptive strategies designed to keep you craving more and more.
Could the foods we are eating actually be keeping us stuck in the diet trap?
In this free online premiere event you’ll discover:
How to navigate your supermarket – what to buy and what to avoid
The real truth behind “DIET”, “SUGAR-FREE” and “FAT-FREE” products
How to overcome food addictions and cravings
Why fad diets dont work
What food additives to avoid and how to read labels
What is fat and cellulite and how do we get rid of it for good
The most effective detox and cleansing strategies, and
How to eat for clear eyes, glowing skin and healthy hair
I was really excited to see two of my favorite experts on the trailer, Kris Carr and Dr. Christiane Northrup. This looks very promising…
In a word, Healthy Eating Healthy World is groundbreaking. Never before have I seen such a multi-faceted look at the power of plant-based nutrition. J. Morris Hicks (With Stanfield Hicks) examines the destructive nature of meat consumption on our environment as well as our personal health while also delving into the cruelty animals experience on factory farms, and the horrendous issue of human starvation throughout the world. Hicks successfully demonstrates the causal relationship between the SAD (Standard American Diet) and the aforementioned issues.
In all, raising livestock accounts for 78 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. –Page 72
To produce one kilo of potatoes requires 100 litres of water; to produce the same amount of beef requires 13,000 litres of water. -Page 78
[T]o feed a single person the typical Western diet (heavy with animal products) for a year requires 3.25 acres of arable land. To feed one vegan requires about 1/6 of an acre. -Page 109.
These facts force one to go inward and examine how one can in all good conscience eat the hamburger that contributes so strongly to the hunger of others. If we were to use the feed given to animals to feed humans I have to think we would be moving in the direction of a solution.
While reading Healthy Eating Healthy World I was struck by the ease with which J. Morris Hicks was able to join together such a comprehensive amount of information with regards to plant-based eating. From the health benefits, to the scientific evidence behind those benefits, to Doug Lisle’s research on why we are so addicted to the very foods we need to be avoiding (The Pleasure Trap), to the HOWS of living a plant based lifestyle. So many books focus solely on the problems our world is facing, and while this book definitely explains those issues, the solutions are detailed as well.
In August 2010, for the first time ever, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they will pay for intensive diet and exercise programs developed under the Ornish and Pritikin brands for reducing cardiovascular event risk. -Page 17
When I read that I practically jumped for joy. We are starting to see REAL solutions. Nutrition-based healing vs. drug dependency is going to propel this nation toward health. While medication can be lifesaving during acute illness, nutritional excellence can achieve true healing versus the masking of symptoms long-term medication provides.
Along those same lines, Hicks digs his heels into the inefficiency and corruption that exists within the health insurance and food industries. We have hospitals charging $8 for a single Motrin (personal experience) and nutritional researchers being financed by the food industry itself.
[A]nother found 34% of the primary authors of 800 papers in molecular biology and medicine to be involved in patents, to serve on advisory committees, or to hold personal shares in companies that might benefit from the research. -Page 145
I don’t know what the solution is, however if people are not aware of the problem, the solution to it will not be found. For that reason I am thrilled that Hicks is bringing these issues to light.
As I mentioned above, Hicks does take the time to explain HOW one can healthfully follow a whole food plant-based diet. 42 pages of the book are dedicated to educating the reader about nutrition and WHAT to eat. My hope is that the reader will be inspired by what they have learned and push further into the subject matter by reading the works of Dr. McDougall, Dr. Esselstyn, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
I highly recommend Healthy Eating Healthy World for those who are looking for a concise yet wonderfully in-depth and well-rounded book that truly does bring all of the issues into the same room. These issues are truly interdependent.
The event with Dr. Doug Lisle today was truly eye-opening. I first heard Dr. Lisle speak when I was going through the process of getting my certification through Cornell and he was one of the Guest Professors. His lecture on the Pleasure Trap was absolutely engaging and one of the most interesting and insightful lectures I had heard to date. He presented that lecture again today and it was every bit as interesting the second time around.
Seeing as it is after midnight here as I type this (thus excuse any typos), I will give you the quick recap because I want you to have the information…it is that important. Having this background information is KEY to understanding WHY our nation is experiencing unprecedented weight / health problems. First and most importantly you need to understand this one piece of information:
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. IT IS NOT A WILLPOWER ISSUE. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.
THE PLEASURE TRAP
Why is it that once you know what to do it is so hard to do? Let’s get into some evolutionary psychology.
We run on instinct and all being’s instincts are to eat, survive, and reproduce (I think Dr. Lisle chose the right profession…he was not destined to be an artist, but I love the self-deprecating humor within which he shares his art!).
While each animal has their own nature, we all have the same Motivational Triad. We are all hard-wired to unconsciously make decisions using this triad. By nature we seek out pleasure, try to avoid pain, and attempt to do both by expending as little energy as possible (i.e. fish swim in schools to draft off one another and conserve energy).
The PLEASURE TRAP occurs when you take someone and put them into an environment they were not designed to handle. FOOD is now the #1 pleasure trap.
The slide above lists the most popular foods at present time. What do all of them have in common? Sugar, fat, and salt…foods that we were DESIGNED to seek out. These processed foods have a much higher caloric density than whole unrefined foods. These calorically dense foods are much more attractive to us biologically because they support the Motivational Triad by giving us pleasure, quickly eliminating the natural anxiety that accompanies hunger, and by being so calorically dense they give us the biggest bang for our buck which supports our biological need to conserve energy.
Obviously we all know that junk food is not good for us, but another detrimental effect of eating junk food is that we quickly become addicted to it. When we eat this food it definitely does trigger a pleasure response in our brain, however that pleasure response deafens with time and the same exact junk food does not taste as good to us as it originally did which makes us want/need a little bit more (i.e. During the holidays did you walk into a home with a fresh Xmas tree and notice how wonderful it smelled [stage II] and then notice that within 15 minutes you barely smelled it anymore [stage III]??? Your senses were dulled).
When it comes time to try and eliminate junk food aka the Evil Triad of fat, sugar, and salt from your diet, you are going to go through a painful withdrawal (stage IV)…whole unrefined foods are not going to taste very good to you initially since your senses were dulled.
Fortunately if you understand this process you can expect it and push through to stage V where your body has adjusted to the healthier food and truly likes it.
One of Dr. Lisle’s quotes was so powerful, “(When it comes to food) If you do the wrong thing it feels right and when you do the right thing (after having been doing the wrong thing) it feels wrong.”
Dr. Lisle did have a few suggestions to help you power through from stage IV to stage V:
Go to jail
When he jokingly refers to jail, he is referring to going to a center such as True North or Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center in Santa Rosa. These are medically supervised health centers that can really shock your systems into health in the most efficient ways.
All of the above three methods take your fat, salt, and sugar receptors offline and essentially resets them.
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND
According to Dr. Lisle, there are only three species on the planet with weight problems:
It is troubling that all three of those species are primarily found within our homes and are fed by us.
Conversely, even in NATURE when food is abundant, animals still do not get fat.
Dr. Lisle made a point of debunking the slide above stating that weight problems are NOT because of psychological issues, but did emphasize that weight problems can CAUSE psychological issues.
Many people believe that we all got so heavy by eating large volumes of food, but Dr. Lisle basically broke it down to the fact that we are eating food that is too calorically dense (i.e. we could all easily eat four pieces of bread, but we could NOT as easily eat 4 cups of brown rice).
He believes that the leading cause of weight gain is oil. Apples are 300 calories a pound. Oil is 4000 calories a pound. They did a study and gave women 500 calorie plates of pasta and vegetables. There were two groups of women and both received the same plates of pasta and vegetables, however one of the groups had 300 calories of oil added to their plate for a total of 800 calories. BOTH groups of women reported the same amount of fullness after the meals! It was as if the oil went unnoticed!!!
Another interesting statistic is that between the ages of 20 and 40 women gain about 1 pound per year. NOT by massively overeating, but by systematically eating a LITTLE too much (see example above).
It has been some time since the developed world has eaten food in its natural habitat. We have been eating food that has been chewed by steel jaws (grain processed into flour) before it even gets into our mouths, processed oils instead of olives, and sugar instead of fruit.
The most powerful quote of the entire presentation in my opinion was this:
“If you are overweight you are eating foods that are too concentrated. Simple as that.”
Eat an appropriately calorie dense diet of whole unprocessed food and your body will take you where you need to be…you do not need to try and consciously eat less.
In fact, trying to deprive yourself of the proper volume of food will lead you to problems in that your biology will kick in and push you to seek those calorically dense (fat, sugar, salt) foods that we need to avoid. YOU MUST NOT GO HUNGRY or you will set yourself up for failure.
By eating less calorically dense food you are literally able to fill-up your stomach which will signal your brain that you are full and that your nutrient needs have been met.
There are strategies you can follow to assist yourself even further. Dr. Lisle suggests you eat in the following order:
You don’t need to be perfect to overcome your weight problems. Dr. Lisle coached a woman who was approx 350 pounds and the ONLY change she made was to have oatmeal for breakfast. In one year she lost 70 pounds!!!
While our biology means that we will always have to look over our shoulders a little bit, knowing WHY and understanding WHY helps us conquer those issues in today’s modern world of excess.
I wished you were all able to be there today to hear Dr. Lisle speak live…he is much more dynamic and engaging than my recap can ever be. Did any of you catch the Livestream of the lectures? What did you think?
Gretchen , Julieanna Hever, Chef AJ (Joking as usual!), The Event Planner, Dr. Doug Lisle
~I will post some of the Q and A from the event at a later date. Valuable stuff!!!
Virginia “Ginny” Messina is a dietitian and public health specialist who has co-authored a textbook on vegetarian nutrition that is aimed at medical and nutrition professionals, has also twice co-authored the American Dietetic Association’s Position on Vegetarian Diets, has authored countless books (Vegan for Life is the most recent), and helped develop a food guide for vegetarians and vegans.
Ginny has also been a nutrition instructor at Central Michigan University, where she taught principles of public health education to dietetics students. She was the director of nutrition services in a medical center serving more than 50,000 patients, and has developed nutrition education materials for many organizations including the U.S. government’s national cholesterol program.
Ginny is an authority when it comes to nutrition and the nuances of a vegan lifestyle. Many people contact me with questions regarding vitamins as they pertain to the vegan diet. Below Ginny will discuss in detail fat soluble vitamins as they relate to vegan nutrition.
Ginny has a wonderful blog that I follow. To learn more click here.
To read an interesting interview of Ginny , click here.
For a complete listing of Ginny’s books, click here.
This month, I’m working on a couple of responses to recently published criticisms of vegan diets. Among the issues that are frequently raised is one that focuses on fat-soluble vitamins. Some of the concerns are based on legitimate questions about active forms of these vitamins and their absorption from plant foods, and others aren’t. Regardless of those questions, though, plant foods can and do provide enough of the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K. (Vitamin E, which is also fat-soluble, is not involved in the controversy since it’s found in a very wide variety of foods.)
Vitamin A: It’s true that the preformed active type of this vitamin is found only in animal foods. But plants are abundant in vitamin A precursors like beta-carotene. In fact, these provitamin A compounds are important enough that the USDA measures vitamin A content of foods as “retinol activity equivalents (RAE),” which includes both preformed vitamin A and the compounds that the body turns into vitamin A. There is no separate RDA or recommendation for animal-derived pre-formed vitamin A.
You can meet your vitamin A requirement for the day by drinking just one-quarter cup of carrot juice or eating a cup of kale or spinach. Other foods that make significant contributions are sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and dark orange winter squashes, including pumpkin. A word of caution though: Earlier assessments of retinol activity equivalents in plant foods over-estimated amounts. This is because more recent data show that conversion rates of the vitamin A precursors are lower than previously believed. As a result, vitamin A is a nutrient that deserves some attention in vegan diets. This doesn’t mean you can’t get enough; it does mean that it’s a good idea to make sure you eat vitamin A rich foods every day.
Vitamin D: This vitamin occurs naturally in only a few foods—fatty fish, eggs from chickens who were fed vitamin D, and mushrooms treated with ultraviolet light. With such limited dietary availability, humans wouldn’t have gotten very far if not for the fact that we can make all the vitamin D we need when skin is exposed to sunlight. As humans have moved farther from equatorial zones—and spend less time outdoors—it’s become harder to make enough, though, so vitamin D-fortified foods have become important.
Although people can get adequate vitamin D from fatty fish, most—omnivore or not—rely on fortified foods and sun exposure, two options that are as easily available to vegans as to omnivores.
The vegan form of vitamin D, which is called ergocalciferol or vitamin D2, has been shown to be as effective in raising blood levels of this nutrient as animal-derived vitamin D3 when it’s taken at a usual daily dose (1) (The RDA is 600 IUs; some experts recommend 1,000.) At megadoses, however, vitamin D2 may need to be taken more often.(2) But no one should be megadosing on vitamin D unless they are working with a doctor to correct a deficiency. And vitamin D2 has been used to effectively raise blood levels in people with deficiencies. (3, 4)
Vitamin K: Best sources of this nutrient are leafy green vegetables and canola, soy and olive oils. One form of vitamin K, called vitamin K2 or menaquinone, is found in animal products but in only one lone plant food—natto, a fermented soy product that isn’t a usual part of most western vegan diets. This isn’t a problem, though, because humans have no requirement for vitamin K2. We also have bacteria in our gut that produce this form of vitamin K—so we’re covered either way. Since vitamin K is essential for blood clotting we’d see some evidence of a deficiency if vegans weren’t getting enough. But a study that compared clotting rates between vegans and meat eaters found no difference. (5)
Getting Enough of the Fat Soluble Vitamins: The best way to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of the fat soluble vitamins is to eat plenty of leafy green and dark orange vegetables and to take a vitamin D supplement if you don’t get adequate sun exposure. Gentle cooking improves the absorption of some vitamin A precursors, and cooking foods in small amounts of olive or canola oil can give you a vitamin boost while improving absorption of these vitamins.
1. Holick MF, Biancuzzo RM, Chen TC, et al. Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008;93:677-81.
2. Romagnoli E, Mascia ML, Cipriani C, et al. Short and Long Term Variations in Serum Calciotrophic Hormones after a Single Very Large Dose of Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) or Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) in the Elderly. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
3. Thacher TD, Obadofin MO, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA. The effect of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 on intestinal calcium absorption in Nigerian children with rickets. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:3314-21.
4. Gordon CM, Williams AL, Feldman HA, et al. Treatment of Hypovitaminosis D in Infants and Toddlers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
5. Sanders TA, Roshanai F. Platelet phospholipid fatty acid composition and function in vegans compared with age- and sex-matched omnivore controls. Eur J Clin Nutr 1992;46:823-31.
I am in need of your expertise. I am considering taking dairy out of my kid’s diet to look more like me & my husband’s diet, but I am finding the right cheese replacement to be the hardest part. They really like the soy cheese, but I don’t want them to have that much soy. They also like the rice and/or almond cheese but they both contain casein, which is in dairy and not exactly healthy for you! All the ones at Whole Foods that say Vegan have soy and all the Rice Cheese have casein. Can’t decide which is worse…Help…any suggestions? Do you make nut cheeses for your kids?
I love to hear that parents are considering taking dairy out of their children’s diet. My children do not consume dairy and are thriving! That being said, it can be a tough battle to remove something from a child’s diet if they really have a fondness for it. I removed dairy from my children’s diet about 3 years ago and some items were harder to remove than others. There was some kicking and screaming with regards to the removal of string cheese. The milk was easier to remove because I slowly changed their milk without them even realizing it. My method involved slowly diluting their milk with almond milk. On day one I replaced about 1/6th of their milk with almond milk and the next week it went to ¼ of their milk, the next week 1/3, then ½, ¾, until it was all almond milk. I personally think that the milk transition would have been even easier if at the time I had access to So Delicious’s Unsweetened Coconut Milk.
Now, onto cheese. People have a true addiction to cheese. In PCRM’s (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) research studies, “When we take people off meat, dairy products, and other unhealthy fare, we often find that the desire for cheese, in particular, lingers on much more strongly than for other foods. While they might like ice cream or yogurt, they describe their feelings for cheese as a deep-seated craving.” It has been found that cow’s milk and human milk both have trace amounts of morphine in them. It is theorized that this helps babies bond with their mothers when breast feeding. According toVegSource.com, “[C]ows actually produce it within their bodies, just as poppies do. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are apparently produced in cows’ livers and can end up in their milk. Cow’s milk-or the milk of any other species, for that matter-contains a protein, called casein, that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates, called casomorphins. A cup of cow’s milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese.”
As long as you understand that the removal of cheese will be difficult and you make the decision to stay the course, you will survive the transition and be glad you stuck it out. In my opinion, there is no direct replacement for dairy cheese in the vegan world. As for substitutes, different vegan cheeses serve different purposes. You are right that a lot of the vegan cheese substitutes out there do contain casein as well as soy. Perhaps these cheese substitutes can help your children with their transition away from dairy cheese. One thing is for certain, they are more healthful than dairy cheese. Daiya has been a great substitute for me. I do not use it all the time due to its high fat content, but it makes wonderful grilled “cheese” sandwiches and macaroni and cheese (click here for my recipe). I do make nut cheeses on occasion and find that they work really well in my lasagna recipes or as ricotta substitutes. If I make the nut cheese on its own (i.e. to eat with crackers), I find that I like it more than my children do, but my nephew loved it the last time he tried it. Mostly I have made peace with the fact that I don’t NEED a replacement for cheese. For example, pizza tastes great without cheese as does garlic bread and pesto can be made with nutritional yeast. I think we all need to change the way we think about cheese.
Congratulations on making the decision to improve your children’s health.
**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her firstname.lastname@example.org .**
I was recently contacted by a family member for advice about an ailment that I know many people suffer from. In their e-mail to me they wrote, “I keep getting cold sores in my mouth and on my tongue. What do I need to do to get rid of them? Help!”
First of all I want to reiterate that I am not a doctor. I do however know that there are steps people can take to help heal their cold sores and to help prevent an outbreak in the first place. One popular supplement to take in an effort to cure an outbreak is lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid. When I say essential, I mean that our body does not produce this amino acid on its own, rather we need to obtain it through our diet. Lysine has been shown to be effective against the spread of the Herpes virus, however it will not be effective if we have too much of another amino acid in our body, arginine. It appears that these two amino acids fight against each other for space in our guts. If the arginine outnumbers the lysine, the lysine will be ineffective.
According to About.com’s Alternative Medicine section, the proper dosage of supplemental lysine during an active episode is 1000mg 3 times a day. Once the cold sores have healed, the maintenance dose is 1250mg per day. When looking for a lysine supplement it is important to buy a supplement that is pure and not synthetic. Also try to buy a lysine supplement that includes zinc, vitamin C, and bioflavinoids since these seems to work synergistically (Source:http://www.herpes-coldsores.com/amino-acid-lysine-for-herpes.html).
To aid the effectiveness of the lysine treatment, it is important to consume as many high lysine foods as possible and to avoid high arginine food sources. I found conflicting information with regards to wheat germ and legumes. Some sources list them as high in arginine and others list them as high in lysine. Confusing. Click here for a list of high lysine and high arginine foods.
It is also important to note that the following have shown promise in the fight against cold sores, bee propolis, resveratrol cream, peppermint oil, and lemon balm.
**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her email@example.com .**
FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
In this interview, Brian tells us about his experience making Forks Over Knives and then watching it blossom into a huge success…
JH: You went from commercial real estate straight into producing one of the most important documentaries of our time, Forks Over Knives, as your first film. What inspired you to take the leap?
BW: The evidence that diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and sometimes cancer, can be effectively prevented, and even reversed, by a whole foods plant-based diet is compelling. For whatever reason, the information wasn’t getting to the masses, so only a few people were benefiting from it. I thought making a feature film was an opportunity to change that, and doing something that would have a positive impact on people’s lives was something I always wanted to do.
JH: How do you feel about the outpouring of support and enthusiasm for the film?
BW: The response has been beyond what I had imagined. It’s rewarding. I think people see the potential in the concepts brought forward in the film as a real way to make our lives better.
BW: I hope that the level of education about food and its impact on health will increase, and that as a result, people will lead more healthful lives. It turns out that the same diet that is good for human health, is compassionate to animals and less taxing to the environment, so it’s important to see improvements in these areas as well.
JH: Can you describe the message you are trying to relay by creating such a critical piece?
BW: The message is that there is evidence that there’s something very specific we can do to greatly reduce our suffering from degenerative diseases. At a time when we’re trying to find solutions to difficult problems, it’s good to know that there may be one at hand—especially something that is simple.
JH: What was it like working with a healthy handful of the most innovative, influential scientists of our generation?
BW: Given my passion for the subject, there are no individuals I would have rather worked with than Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn. Getting to spend as much time with them as we did, and getting to know them personally, was an experience that is difficult to describe in words.
JH: What was your biggest challenge in making the film?
BW: The biggest challenge was figuring out how to take a vast amount of information along with a significant number of stories, and making into a presentation of less than 96 minutes. There’s a lot of material that didn’t make it in. We realized that the film represents more the beginning of a discussion.
JH: Do you intend to continue making documentary films with a similar message?
BW: Right now I’m focused on releasing the film, an undertaking that is quite substantial. I do, though, like the idea of making another documentary film.
By now I think you all realize how important it is to me that my reviews be unbiased reviews…I do not just hand-out a thumbs-up simply because someone has sent me a product or book to try. That being said, I am really impressed by Brenda Watson’s The Road To Perfect Health book. This is such a comprehensive book…it is HUGE!
In this book Brenda Watson thoroughly explains our gut and why it is such a crucial player in the health of our body. I am someone who believes that people really need to take charge of their health and if something doesn’t feel right, they need to investigate further. Doctors can be such amazing members of our health team (or they can be dismissive), but there is no member more amazing than the person experiencing the symptom firsthand. This book helps a person do just that. The Road to Perfect Health takes a multitude of illnesses i.e. from eczema to cancer and explains the possible origins, how to test for the ailment, and possible solutions for healing the ailment. This book helps people take their health in their own hands…i.e. you know what tests to ask your doctor for.
At the moment the book is only available through a PBS pledge at the $195 level:
“This ultimate package includes “The Road to Perfect Health” DVD, 5 CD set, 2 DVD set, book, “Probiotic Guide Booklet with Self-Test Questionnaire” and “Digestive Function Medical Analysis and Test KIT 50% Coupon.”
There are also packages at a lower price point, but they do not include the book.
Click here for more information on how to get the book.
People are always so curious about where I get my protein. There is a misconception that plant based diets are deificient in protein. I stumbled upon the post below and thought you might like to read Brendan Brazier’s take on protein. This post is from Crazy Sexy Life By Brendan Brazier on March 5, 2009. To read the post directly on the Craze Sexy Life website click here.
Properly balanced plant-based protein can offer several advantages over more traditional animal-based options. I discovered this along the way when I was searching for a performance advantage. At the age of 15 I made the concerted decision that I wanted to race Ironman triathlons professionally. Aware that staking the odds of making this happen in my favor would rely heavily upon a sound nutritional strategy, I began to search for one. Going somewhat against the grain, I decided to experiment with a plant-based diet. As you might imagine, criticism flowed: where would I get my protein? Until it worked. I raced Ironman triathlons professionally for seven years, all on a plant-based diet. I honestly believe that the detail I applied to my nutrition program was a large reason for me even having a Pro Ironman career at all. The following is what I learned about protein and how you can apply it to boost your overall performance, improve muscle tone and increase your energy level.
It was once thought that only animal protein was complete and therefore a superior source to plant-based options. Complete protein is comprised of all ten essential amino acids. By definition, essential amino acids cannot be made by the body; they must be obtained through dietary sources. And, in fact, there are actually several complete plant protein sources. However, to obtain all amino acids in high quantities, it’s advantageous to consume several complementary sources of protein on a regular basis. For example, hemp, yellow pea and brown rice protein make up a superior amino acid profile that rivals any created in the animal kingdom.
Additionally, one of the big advantages of properly balance whole food, plant-based protein over animal protein is its only slightly acidic or neutral pH. In contrast, highly processed foods are acid forming, and even more so are animal based foods. Whey protein isolate, for example, is highly acid forming. Whey, strait from the cow, would be numeral and even slightly alkaline, but once the protein gets isolated (therefore rendering it no longer a whole food) and it is then pasteurized, these two steps of processing lower its pH, making it considerably more acid-forming. Meat, pork in particular, is also highly acid forming. Acid forming foods include all those that are cooked at a high temperature or highly processed. Among the most acid forming are meat, coffee, pasteurized milk and cheese, prescription drugs, margarine, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks and roast nuts as well as all refined flour-based foods. Refined flour-based foods include: most commercial breakfast cereal, white pasta, white bread, conventional baked goods.
As a basic rule, the more that has been done to the food, the more acid forming it will be. The less that has been done to alter its original state, the more alkaline forming it will be.
It’s advantageous to maintain a neutral pH. Eating too many acid forming foods will promote inflammation, reduce immune function and cause highly-alkaline calcium to be pulled from the bones to keep the blood in its neutral state of 7.35. This of course leads to lower bone density and in many cases, osteoporosis. In fact, the over consumption of highly refined foods is the reason that we as North Americans are contracting osteoporosis at a younger age than ever before in history.
The most alkaline forming foods are those with chlorophyll, the green pigment in many plants. Leafy greens for example. Hemp is an excellent example in that is contains complete protein, yet the fact that it is not isolated and that it contains chlorophyll helps maintain a more alkaline pH.
A large salad is also a good high-quality protein option. I realize that when many people think salad, protein is not usually what comes to mind. Although, dark types of lettuce are up to 40% protein and spinach registers at about 45% protein. Since leafy greens are light, of course, this doesn’t add up to astonishingly high numbers in term of grams of protein. However, since protein in leafy greens is already in amino acid form, the kind usable by the body, it doesn’t have to be converted; therefore it saves the consumer energy. The body can’t use protein as is, it must convert it to amino acids first. Therefore in my book Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, I classify foods with this quality as “one-step nutrition” foods. They offer a significant advantage. Since the step of converting protein to amino acids is eliminated, the body will conserve energy through the assimilation process. And, because of this energy savings, you will have a greater amount. If you don’t spend it, you still have it; that’s the premise of another one of the core principals in Thrive called “energy through conservation as opposed to consumption.”
If a large enough salad is eaten, taking into consideration its “one-step nutrition” quality and therefore its ability to provide more energy than foods that don’t assimilate as efficiently, a substantial amount of usable protein will be ingested.
“Pseudo grain” is the term given to what is technically a seed, yet commonly referred to as a grain. Examples include: amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and wild rice. Since they are all in fact seeds, their nutritional profile closely reflects that. They are gluten free, and higher in protein than grains. They can also be easily sprouted. The sprouting process converts the protein in pseudo grains into amino acids, putting them in the one-step nutrition category, thereby significantly improving their digestibility. Additionally, sprouting raises their pH making them an alkaline-forming food. And with greater than 20 percent protein in amino acid form and superior digestibility, pseudo grains are a sound protein source. Adding half a cup of sprouted buckwheat to a large salad will certainly yield a high-quality protein meal.
New research from England should make dermatologists happy: A “tan” gained by eating lots of vegetables rich in carotenoids (antioxidant chemicals found in vegetables such as carrots and beet greens) is considered more attractive than a tan obtained from the sun.
At least, that’s the opinion of several British university students.
To test a theory that a healthy diet might make a person more attractive, researchers at the University of Nottingham, the University of St. Andrews and Bristol University showed a series of photographed faces to a few dozen students.
Ian Stephen, University of NottinghamThe middle photo shows the woman’s natural color. On the left, the suntanned. On the right, yellowing from carotenoids.
The students could adjust the skin tone of the photographed faces, making them more yellow, more suntanned or more pale.
According to the new study, the students found yellower faces more attractive and healthy looking.
In another study, the researchers found that students eating diets rich in vegetables and fruits had yellower skin than those who didn’t.
“Most people think the best way to improve skin color is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective,” said Ian Stephen, a psychologist at the University of Nottingham.
Carotenoids are antioxidants that help the body cope with stress and remain healthy. Scientists have found that they are vital in maintaining healthy immune and reproductive function.
The scientists theorize that skin shining with a carrot-like glow may indicate health to potential mates and allies, and therefore appear more attractive to others.
“This is something we share with many other species,” said David Perrett, a professor at St. Andrews who contributed to the study. “The bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What’s more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colored males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans.”
Examples of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids include carrots, cantaloupe melons, beet greens, spinach, kale and persimmons.
"The diet that helps to reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run."
~T. Colin Campbell
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