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.

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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.

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.

Food for Life

Food for Life

Last weekend my wife and I coordinated a Food for Life event at our UU Church. We showed the movie Forks Over Knives and made dinner for about 60 people – which helps explain why I haven’t had time to post anything here the past two weeks.

The dinner was sponsored by the church’s Social Justice Committee. We wanted to make the point that, along with the personal health benefits, a plant-based diet could impact other areas like

  • Climate change
  • Clean, potable water supply
  • Sustainable food systems
  • Healthcare costs

Along with planning, shopping and preparing food we put together a fact sheet with information related to the impact areas listed above and books and websites for more information. I’ve uploaded a PDF and Word version of the file. Feel free to use and edit them.

For dinner we made Bad 2 the Bone Chili and Raise the Barn Butternut Squash-Vegetable Lasagna from Rip Esselstyn’s book My Beef with Meat.

The event was a great success. The audience reacted well to the movie, the food we made got rave reviews and the questions people asked after the movie showed there was interest in finding out more about how to improve their health through what they eat.

Don’t Make a New Years Resolution to Lose Weight

2014It’s the new year, Happy 2014. Time for the weight loss ads to pummel us from the radio to Facebook. We’ll also see the promotions for exercise equipment – that many of us will buy and then sell at a garage sale a year from now.

This year, don’t make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, make a commitment to a lifestyle change.

That’s the path I took in 2013. After watching the movie Forks Over Knives and reading Dr. Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease my wife and I made a lifestyle change to a whole foods, plant-based diet. We didn’t necessarily make this change to lose weight, although we did, we did it to change our long-term health outcomes. To prevent the chronic diseases that have impacted others in our families.

What do you want for the new year? Everyone’s path is different. If you do have a chronic condition like high blood pressure, pre-diabetes or cardiovascular issues then look at making a lifestyle change following the advice of Drs. Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougall or Barnard; or Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Program. If you would like to lose weight – and keep it off – then look to the programs offered by Drs. Ornish, or Pulde and Lederman that provide a continuum approach to diet and lifestyle.

In 2014 make a commitment to changing your life. Eat whole foods, get exercise, sleep well and use meditation or other means to reduce stress. This is my prescription for a truly Happy New Year.

Namaste

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.

Happy 80th Birthday, Dr. Esselstyn

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Today is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s 80th birthday.One of the doctors featured in the movie Forks Over Knives.

My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife Ann at a retreat center in Massachusetts earlier this year. He is an example of what a whole food, plant-based lifestyle can do for your health and wellness.

I hope I have as much energy and vitality when I turn 80.

Visit the Engine 2 Diet Facebook page – Dr. Esselstyn’s son, Rip, wrote the Engine 2 Diet and My Beef with Meat books – to send Dr. Esselstyn a Happy Birthday message.

Here is one of Esselstyn’s favorite quotes

Extreme

Obesity, Not Old Age, Drives Healthcare Costs

Obesity in the US 2012

Obesity in the US 2012

A recent article from The Atlantic highlighted a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shattered some myths about the US Healthcare Disease Care system.

The study authors—a combination of experts from Alerion Advisors, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Rochester, and the Boston Consulting Group—take a point-by-point look at why healthcare costs so much, why our outcomes are comparatively poor, and what accounts for the growth in medical expenditures.

The number one myth is that old age accounts for the majority of healthcare spending – when in fact it is obesity.

Actually, chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, among people younger than 65 drives two-thirds of medical spending. About 85 percent of medical costs are spent on people younger than 65, though people do spend more on healthcare as they age.

“Between 2000 and 2011, increase in price (particularly of drugs, medical devices, and hospital care), not intensity of service or demographic change, produced most of the increase in health’s share of GDP,” the authors write.

The biggest-spending disease with the fastest growth rate was hyperlipidemia—high cholesterol and triglycerides—for which spending grew by 14.4 percent annually between 2000 and 2010.

All you have to do is look around and see the increase in people’s waistlines or the proliferation of fast food and junk food everywhere.

These two maps also tell the story. The map at the beginning of the post is the Obesity map for 2012 from the United Healthcare Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings website. The one below is the map from 1990. The growth in the rate of obesity is astounding.

Obesity in the US 1990

Obesity in the US 1990

We are eating ourselves sick with the Standard American Diet (SAD) full of meat, dairy and eggs cooked with fat, sugar and salt. This way of eating is impacting all of us – high healthcare costs, productivity loss from hospitalizations and increased death rates.

It’s time to change to a whole food, plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. (You knew I was going to go there sooner or later, didn’t you?)

Other findings in the study include:

  • The US does not have the best healthcare system in the world (why are there still people who would have us believe that we’re still number 1? We haven’t been for decades. We spend more than other Western countries for worse outcomes.)
  • Spending more on IT and technology is not making the system more cost-efficient (Your doctor has an iPad! – does that make them a better doctor?)
  • The rate of increase in medical costs has slowed down (thanks in part to the recession and the Affordable Care Act)

We are on a path to have this generation of Americans living shorter lives than their parents because of our diet and health habits. It’s time to change.

Easy Black Beans and Rice

easy black beans and rice

Wanted to share with you an easy recipe for a quick dinner and leftovers.

Easy Black Beans and Rice

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of frozen corn
Salsa and chiles to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a pot, add salsa, chiles and any spices to your taste.

Serve with a salad and baked chips.

We buy the Engine 2 Brown Rice Tortillas from Whole Foods. I cut each tortilla into 6 wedges and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

As you can see, I have the final product ready for lunch tomorrow.

This recipe is quick, easy to make and delicious.