Parkinson’s Disease Linked to Statins

pillsA new study conducted by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found that long-term statin use can increase the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.

A recent article titled Statins Maybe Not a Wonder Drug for Parkinson in Neurology Times

The new study was conducted over a 20 year period and shows that long-term use of statins can produce some detrimental side effects. However, the study also suggests cholesterol may have a vital role in protecting the brain and nervous system.

In late 2013 I wrote about new heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology. These guidelines suggested doubling the number of persons who take statins. I suggested at the time that maybe we should just put statins in the water.

About 43 million Americans take statins or are statin therapy candidates, and the American Heart Association estimates that number will soon increase to 56 million or even more. Guidelines recommend that even persons who do not have high cholesterol but have other risk factors also take statins.

Following the release of this report, some public health officials are reconsidering the widespread use of statins for people with low risk of heart disease.

Dr Xuemei Huang, who led the research on the link with Parkinson’s disease, recently published in the journal of Movement Disorders, expressed concerns about the widespread prescription of statins.

The professor of neurology at Penn State College of Medicine in Pennsylvania said: If we blanket prescribe statins to people we could be creating a huge population of people with neurological problems.

I think doctors are over-enamoured with statins and think it is a cure-all.

Eating a vegan or whole-food plant-based diet will keep you away from statins – the “wonder drug” that might not be so wonderful.

 

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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.

Embracing the “V” Word

Make your own at Keep Calm-o-matic

Make your own at Keep Calm-o-matic

I started my whole food, plant-based way of eating after watching the movie Forks Over Knives and reading Dr. Esselstyn‘s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. A few months later we went to a seminar where Dr. Esselstyn presented and he made the point – as do others like Drs John McDougall and T. Colin Campbell – that they don’t like to refer to their way of eating as vegan. They point out that there are many vegans who are not healthy because they eat too much oil, or nuts, or processed vegan foods. Also, the word vegan is too loaded, they say, and is a turn off to some people.

I went along, telling people I had adopted a whole food, plant-based diet. When pressed, I would say that it was essentially a vegan diet.

But, like Somer McCowan at Vedgedout.com, I’m ready to embrace veganism.

In her post Under the Banner of Veganism. Deprivation Diets, Eating Disorders and Orthorexia she talks about some of the issues related to veganism. She is very passionate about being vegan and makes some good points, but I don’t agree with all of it.

(BTW – for those, like me, who haven’t heard of Orthorexia nervosa, it is an “eating disorder” or “mental disorder” that some doctors and therapists define as characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy. It is not an officially recognized eating disorder.)

Somer has a wonderful story – how changing her diet cured her Colitis and helped her lose weight and feel great again.

In my diet transition, I originally went plant-based for health reasons. It wasn’t until about 6 months into my journey that I really made the connection that the decision to stop eating animals and their secretions wasn’t only better for my health, but also that I didn’t want to eat them anymore because I love all creatures and I don’t want to contribute to their suffering when I can live a healthy and strong diet by consuming plants.

Her post is:

  • Part rant – how celebs are jumping on the vegan bandwagon, but then quickly jumping off
  • Part scold – why are we vegans dividing ourselves into all these sub-groups? Oil-free, gluten-free, raw, etc. Many times these additional restrictions cause people to give up on being vegan
  • A reminder – veganism is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

Veganism isn’t just some restrictive fad diet. It’s a lifestyle and a belief system. So, if you’re a vegan, I’m asking you to evaluate that belief system and be honest with yourself about your motivations and your goals. Are you in it for the animals or are you in it because you have self-destructive tendencies? …

Being a vegan makes me feel a lot of joy! I love my diet. I eat a more varied, colorful and beautiful diet than I ever did before eschewing animal foods.

I realized that eating a vegan diet has a profound environmental impact for good. It teaches my children compassion and love. Something hopefully that they’ll carry on and teach their children.

All that being said, my vegan diet is mostly oil-, nut- and GMO-free. If that makes me someone with a “restrictive and obsessive dietary lifestyle,” I’m OK with that. I cook and eat for health and my vegan diet works for me and my family.

I don’t see being vegan as a choice between healthy eating and helping animals. I don’t see the vegans I know having self-destructive tendencies. I was bothered by her either or argument.

If you are not vegan or not eating a whole food, plant-based diet right now, maybe the time is right to make the change. If you are eating vegan, but struggling, do what you need to find the right vegan diet for you. Find a meetup or other groups that can support you, find a vegan friendly doctor, and know that you are doing the right thing for your health, the health of the animals, and the health of the planet.

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.

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

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.

Bad 2 The Bone Chili

Bad 2 the Bone Chili

Getting ready to spend Thanksgiving with my mother and sister in Southern Oregon. We made a large pot of Bad 2 the Bone Chili from Rip Esselstyn’s My Beef with Meat book.

What I love about this chili is all of the veggies.

cut up veggies ready to cook

You start by cutting up onion, carrot, celery, red pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash and let them cook down.

add beans tomato and lentils

Then you add the rest of the ingredients – a cup of cooked red lentils, tomatoes and beans.

fresh tomatoes

The recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but I got some beautiful dry-farmed Early Girls from the Farmers’ Market. The recipe also calls for just kidney beans, but I use a can each of kidney, pinto and great northern beans.

add spices and addl liquid

Then chili powder, cumin, barbeque sauce, maple syrup and salsa. Let it boil, turn down the heat to simmer and in 30 minutes it’s done.

Bad 2 the Bone Chili

There’s nothing like a bowl of chili for a cold night – there’s a possible Nor’easter brewing back East in Vermont. A pot of this will keep you warm after shoveling snow.

We serve the chili with a cornbread recipe from Dr. McDougall’s site.

Cornbread

1 c cornmeal
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp raw sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add non-dairy milk, applesauce, maple syrup and sugar, if using, on top. Using a spatula, stir until just combined. Pour batter into a nonstick shallow 9″ pie dish, or other oven-safe dish. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

I’m making this tomorrow night. I’ll post a picture then.

Happy Holidays and Safe Travels.

PCRM Thanksgiving Menu

Delicata Squash

PCRM – Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (Dr. Barnard’s group) – has a great whole food, plant-based and oil-free menu for Thanksgiving on their website. Everything from soup to dessert.

The menu is:

  • Creamy Mushroom Bisque
  • Crispy Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Delicata Squash Stuffed with Holiday Rice
  • Save-Cash Quinoa Loaf
  • Apple Crisp

They also have pointers to other recipes – like Zesty Cranberry Sauce or Pumpkin Custard Pie. They both sound yummy.

This is an Apple Crisp recipe from Dr. McDougall that is great, but sweetened with maple syrup.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes
Cooking Time:  40-50 minutes
Servings:  9

4 large firm apples, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup raisins or currents
¾ cup Grape Nuts cereal
¾ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup maple syrup
2/3 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the apple slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and cinnamon.  Place in a non-stick square baking dish and sprinkle with the raisins or currents.

Mix the Grape nuts, rolled oats and cinnamon in a separate bowl.  Stir in the maple syrup.  Spread evenly over the apples.  Whisk the apple juice with the cornstarch until well mixed, then pour over the apples and topping.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until apples are tender.

Serve warm or cold.

Enjoy a whole food, plant-based and oil-free holiday this year. You’ll feel better.

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.