Kaiser Embraces the Plant-Based Diet

kaiser-permanente-logoBack in September 2013, the first post on this blog was about Kaiser Permanente advising their doctors to

consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients…encouraging whole, plant-based foods and discouraging meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.

I believe they want their patients to be healthy, but… given that they are a managed care organization, the more of their patients who eat a plant-based diet, the better their bottom line looks.

Plant-based DietAlong with the recommendation, Kaiser produced this 20-page guide with information about the “New Food Groups” their patients will be eating from, tips for getting started, and sample menus and recipes.

Reading this guide, I thought I was reading any number of books by Drs. Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougall, Barnard or Ornish.

This explanation of the benefits of a plant-based diet read like the list of benefits from Dr. Campbell’s book Whole.

  • Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar
  • Reversal or prevention of heart disease
  • Longer life
  • Healthier weight
  • Lower risk of cancer and diabetes
  • May slow the progression of certain types of cancer
  • Improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fewer medication
  • Lower food costs
  • Good for the environment

The guide recommends that patients with heart issues stay away from nuts and oils, like Dr. Esselstyn.

What a radical idea – improving health with diet, not pills.

The resources section at the end of the guide points patients to the Forks Over Knives movie and website, and the websites and books of the good doctors listed above. You can download the guide from their website.

Kaiser is my health care provider and the doctor I see there is not necessarily on board with this program. Despite my telling him that I eat a plant-based diet, he suggested I take fish oil to ensure I get enough Omega-3s. He also wanted to make sure that I was getting enough protein. I should have asked him if he ever tells his omnivore patients to eat less.

However, it is great to see the health care establishment embracing plant-based diets for their patients. Whatever the motivation, their patients win.

Advertisements

Food Revolution Summit

Food Revolution SummitPatti Breitman from Marin VEG shared information about this – and I want to share it with you.

Starting this Saturday the Food Revolution Summit will broadcast three interviews by John Robbins with noted guests each day from April 26 to May 4. The interviews can be listened to live, or will be available for 24 hours to listen to for free.

There are also packages available with additional videos and other information.

Along with the guests shown above, others include:

  • T. Colin Campbell
  • Neal Barnard
  • Caldwell Esselstyn
  • Marion Nestle
  • Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Raj Patel

Sign up today at the website and prepare to be inspired.

The End of Dieting

Dr Fuhrman on Dr Oz Show Dr. Joel Fuhrman was on the Dr. Oz Show last week talking about his new book The End of Dieting. It is a follow-up to his best selling book Eat to Live.

The focus of his new book is on his Nutritarian lifestyle – eating all you want of the proper foods for good nutrition and health. Like Drs. Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougall and Ornish, he advocates a whole food, plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and seeds. Like Dr. Ornish’s Spectrum plan, Dr. Fuhrman also allows for a small intake of dairy and lean meat.

On the show, I thought he did a great job describing the problems associated with on and off dieting and also highlighting the differences between his plan and the Paleo, Wheat Belly or Mediterranean diets.

The hook Dr. Fuhrman uses is the concept of eating G-BOMBS:

  • Greens – eat a lot of greens and salads for their nutrients
  • Beans – full of carbohydrates that don’t spike blood sugar
  • Onions – have great anti-cancer properties
  • Mushrooms – good for preventing breast cancer
  • Berries – good for reversing cancer (and they taste great)
  • Seeds – rich in protein and healthy fat

There is a lot of good information on his website, although some areas are members-only. I am also sad to see the line of supplements that he sells. I believe, based on the information from Drs. Cambell, McDougall and others, that if you eat a healthy diet, you don’t need additional supplements.

However, Dr. Fuhrman is another voice advocating eating whole foods and mostly plant-based at a time when the best seller lists are full of books advocating increased meat and dairy consumption. I hope his book will inspire more people to eat healthy and stop the unhealthy diet cycles that can cause damage and increase the risk of chronic diseases.

 

Happy Birthday, Dr. Campbell

T Colin CampbellI missed posting this yesterday, Dr. T Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, celebrated his 80th birthday.

Drs Campbell, Esselstyn and McDougallHere’s a picture of him with Drs. Esselstyn (who turned 80 late last year) and McDougall from Dr. McDougall’s weekend retreat last month.

Campbell and Esselstyn are examples of how eating a whole food, plant-based diet keeps you healthy and fit.

If you haven’t read his books, please do. The China Study is the foundation for the work that many of the plant-based food advocates build their research on.

T Colin Campbell quoteHappy Birthday, Dr. Campbell. May you have many more.

Animal Protein and Cancer Linked

Animal Protein and Cancer Linked

Image courtesy of The Onion, see below for details

A new study from the University of Southern California found a link between animal protein and cancer.

In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet — a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.

Not only is excessive protein consumption linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — are also more susceptible to early death in general, revealed the study published today in Cell Metabolism. Protein-lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of diabetes.

The USC research looked at other possible factors, but could not link them to cancer.

Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. Rates of cancer and death also did not seem to be affected by controlling for carbohydrate or fat consumption, suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.

This research confirms the findings of other studies published by Drs. T. Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish, Neal Barnard and others. They also found the link between animal protein and cancer. Dr. Campbell’s research found that raising the level of animal protein from 5% to 20% was enough to accelerate cancer cell growth.

The study’s main author, Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute summarized the findings this way.

“Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress?” Longo said. “Turns out one of the major factors in determining if it does is protein intake.”

Once again, this confirms the finding of Campbell, Ornish and others who have determined that nutrition, not genes, is the primary factor in cancer prevention and growth.

In other nutrition news, The Onion published a story about another study that “Links Meat, Sugar Consumption To Early Death Among Those Who Choose To Be Happy In Life.”

You can always count on The Onion to tell us the truth – whether we want to hear it or not. Here’s another headline

New Study Finds Nothing That Will Actually Convince You To Change Your Lifestyle So Just Forget It

Luckily, I and millions of others have made changes to our lifestyles to eat a whole food, plant-based diet to improve our health and lower our risk of chronic disease and cancer.

Contrary to The Onion, we’re happy AND healthy.

The New York Times Publishes More Nonsense on Nutrition

New York TimesGary Taubes, who I had discussed earlier in my review of Colin Campbell’s book The Low-Carb Fraud, had a opinion piece in the New York Times Sunday Review this week. The title was “Why is Nutrition So Confusing?”

He talked about all of the research nutritionist have done in the past 50 years related to Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, yet the number of people with these chronic diseases keep increasing.

It would be nice to think that this deluge of research has brought clarity to the issue. The trend data argue otherwise. If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them?

Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.

However, Taubes is the author of two best-selling books advocating a low-carb diet. He has a theory – the closest he gets to letting us in on his con game is this.

Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

What he fails to mention is that there have been trials, studies and proven methods that do halt or reverse diabetes, obesity and related chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction.

Work done by Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, Dean Ornish, John McDougall, Colin Campbell and many others have shown that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat.

Last Spring, Kaiser Permanente, America’s largest managed care company and hospital system, told their doctors to “consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients…encouraging whole, plant-based foods and discouraging meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.” In order to hold down healthcare costs and control the spread of diabetes.

I am appalled that the Times printed his “opinion” piece without identifying him as someone who is part of, as he put it in the article, “the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment.”

The Times refers to Taubes as “a health and science journalist and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative.”

The Nutrition Science Initiative is

unencumbered by bureaucracy or by an obligation to do anything other than find the truth. We can move quickly and efficiently to execute a novel plan: harness the talents of the best scientists in the field and channel their skills into one concerted effort to generate reliable knowledge, once and for all, on the nature of a healthy diet.

The companies that produce dairy, eggs, meat, sugar and processed foods don’t want the majority of Americans to stop buying their products. So they spend lots of money lobbying Congress to not change food policy or dietary guidelines.

Whole food, plant-based advocates have to find a way to break through the noise of fad diets and the confusion fed us by the media and our own government.

The truth is out there. It is unambiguous. Whole food, plant-based diets work.

The Low-Carb Fraud

Low Carb Fraud

Why do people think low-carb diets are a good idea? What’s the truth behind the low-carb hype? What’s the truly optimal diet for achieving an ideal weight while also obtaining health and longevity?

If there’s one thing I hope you’ll take away from this e-book, it’s this: the low-carb diet’s ability to bring about quick weight loss is far outweighed by the serious health problems that accompany such an animal foods–heavy diet.

Dr. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Whole, has a new e-book – The Low-Carb Fraud – that looks at the Low-Carb diet phenomenon and the hype and misconceptions surrounding them. He also reviews the hype and flawed logic behind the Paleo diets.

The two main points Campbell refutes are

  • the low-carb proponents assertion that all carbs are bad for you
  • when they compare the low-carb diet to a “low fat” diet, their definition of low fat is the same or worse than the Standard American Diet (or SAD) Continue reading

Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

SupplementsThe editorial couldn’t be clearer, with the title “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.” It was published in the prestigious journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

With respect to multivitamins, the studies published in this issue and previous trials indicate no substantial health benefit…Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful,… Other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, despite the growing evidence that most vitamins and supplements aren’t worth the money, the use of them continues to grow.
Despite sobering evidence of no benefit or possible harm, use of multivitamin supplements increased among U.S. adults…Sales of multivitamins and other supplements have not been affected by major studies with null results, and the U.S. supplement industry continues to grow, reaching $28 billion in annual sales in 2010.
In his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Colin Campbell makes the case for why vitamins and supplements won’t give you the nutritional value of eating whole foods. He explains that your body breaks down whole foods and uses the nutrients it needs in their natural state, not when certain parts are separated from the whole. The complexity of the digestive system – which Campbell believes we will never fully understand – makes it imperative that in order to have good health you need to eat whole foods.
Disclaimer: because of my whole food, plant-based diet I do take vitamin B-12, as suggested by most physicians who work with patients who do not eat meat or dairy.

Why Don’t We Just Put It in the Water?

pills

New heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines were released Tuesday (Nov. 12) by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology.

Highlights of these new guidelines are that obesity should be treated like a disease and cholesterol-lowering drugs could prevent cardiovascular disease in more Americans than previously thought. The guidelines also urge overall healthy diets rather than stressing about occasional indulgences. And they give doctors formulas to calculate heart and stroke risk specifically for African-Americans.

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs should now be prescribed to an estimated 33 million Americans without cardiovascular disease who have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.

If followed, this would double the number of people taking these drugs. Why don’t we just put it in the water? In 2010, there were 221 million adults 21 or older in the US. If we are considering giving these drugs to 65 million of them – that’s 30% of the adult population.

This is craziness. Drugs have side effects. The known side effects of statins – according to the Mayo Clinic are:

  • Muscle pain and damage
  • Liver damage
  • Digestive problems
  • Rash or flushing
  • Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  • Neurological side effects

If we give these drugs to more and more people, what are the long-term health implications? What are the long-term financial implications? Who is going to pay for a third of US adults to take these drugs?

When will we get serious about changing the dietary and exercise habits of Americans instead of giving them more pills to hide the problems?

When will we stop suggesting diets like DASH that can only reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but won’t make you heart attack- and stoke-proof the way a whole food, plant-based, oil-free diet can?

Why are researchers and clinicians like Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard ignored when guidelines are created by groups like the AHA? These doctors have over 20+ years of research and studies that prove the effectiveness of whole food, plant-based diets and the health risks of consuming even moderate amounts of meat, dairy and eggs.

As Dr. Esselstyn reminds us, “Moderation Kills.”

In his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Campbell described the cozy relationship between groups like the AHA and the drug manufacturers and dairy and meat industry groups. (And the takeover of government agencies and research groups by the same monied interests.) The AHA can’t tell you to change your diet and give up meat, dairy, eggs, sugar and oils without losing funding.

Statins won’t keep you from getting heart disease or stroke. Don’t ask your doctor if statins might help reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Instead, find a doctor who can help you change your diet and lifestyle to quickly show real results.

Read this account of a man who had his “first 8 stents” done at the age of 31, and 9 years and numerous procedures later, he became heart attack proof following Dr. Esselstyn’s recommendations. He writes:

I have lost 48 pounds. My blood work has gone from total cholesterol of 208, LDL of 93, HDL of 41, and triglycerides of 368 last June to most recent results of total cholesterol of 89, LDL of 19, HDL of 53, and triglycerides of 83. That transformation is nothing short of amazing.

Take control of your health. Follow the links in the Nutrition section on this site and get the information you need to find your own path to health and well-being.

Just Another Statistic

Leading Causes of Death statistics from CDC Website

Leading Causes of Death statistics from CDC Website

Five years ago my uncle, my dad’s only sibling, died from complications after heart surgery. He had a minimally invasive procedure done with a da Vinci device. The surgeon performed his task flawlessly, but the assistant punctured one of his lungs when removing the device. Other missteps by the hospital staff further complicated his already weakened system and he never regained consciousness.

A recent article in Forbes, Stunning News On Preventable Deaths In Hospitals, describes the magnitude of this issue:

In 1999, Americans learned that 98,000 people were dying every year from preventable errors in hospitals. That came from a widely touted analysis by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called To Err Is Human. This was the “Silent Spring” of the health care world, grabbing headlines for revealing a serious and deadly problem that required policy and action.

As it turns out, those were the good old days.

According to a new study just out from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety, four times as many people die from preventable medical errors than we thought, as many as 440,000 a year.

Continue reading