There are giants in the land

“Some people think the plant-based, whole-foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.”

~Caldwell Esselstyn

When it comes to plant-based nutrition, there are so many “giants in the land” of the enemy that it is much easier to submit to their rule in our lives than it is to subdue them.  Just ask anyone who has ever made a life change from eating a meat-based diet to one of whole foods, based 100% in plants.

assortedplantDr. Esselstyn’s quote (above) is taken from his groundbreaking book,  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.  It states the obvious irony: people will go to extraordinary extremes, both in health and in financial expenses, to correct, or treat, the outcomes of a poor lifestyle before they will adopt preventative one if it requires changing what they like to eat.

It’s absurd, and it’s true.  Been there, done that, with 60 years of experience!

Like anything else, however, there is comfort in numbers, and the numbers of doctors, nutrition researchers and experts, and plant-based diet adherents are growing, and this alone will turn the course toward disease prevention and away from disease treatment as the primary “fix” for health.
The benefits of a plant-based diet begin at day one when a person simply decides that disease prevention and/or reversal is their biggest health priority.  Making the decision empowers the other activities that move us physically to the better path, and it feels good just to breathe the fresh air of change.

Source for quote: The Top 100 Vegan and Vegetarian Quotes, and the aforementioned book by Dr. Esselstyn.

Why vegan? My reasons.

There have been three primary motivations for choosing to go with a plant-based diet.  I’m sure there are others, but these are my own.  These are not in any special order, and they are equally ranked.  At different times, one may be ascendant to the others, but that’s mostly because I have a particular thing in mind that day.

Day 1 sproutsHealth reasons

From my reading over several years, I believe the evidence is overwhelming, plant-based diets are better for longevity and quality of life.  The work of T. Colin Campbell, particularly, has been the most thorough and most convincing.  The diets espousing the benefits of animal protein over plant-based proteins notwithstanding, the longitudinal research of Campbell and others supports the notion that plant-based is not only adequate for protein, but is superior in every way.  For another book on this particular subject, The Protein Myth, by David Gerow Irving, is definitive.

Senseless animal slaughter

I won’t post the pictures here, but there are so many outstanding books on the subject of how we get meat, along with dairy produce, to our tables, that I believe it is morally damaging and condemnable for me to eat animal products.  One of the best books, written by Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals, opens that window into animal cruelty like no other has done for me.  There are dozens of outstanding books and films on the subject.

Environmental damage

With the evidence mounting that food shortages will become the number one global concern within my own lifetime, we can no longer afford to give up the amount of farmland it takes to satiate the appetites of a meat-eating population.  This, along with the effects of cattle raising, including pigs and poultry, upon negative climate change and water pollution, means to me that continuing to perpetuate this cycle is to commit a major crime against humanity on a global scale.

My reasons may not be everyone’s reason.  But, they have been carefully considered over many years.  The appetite was not hard to kill once the evidence was in.

15 Health Benefits of Cardamom – Sunwarrior News

CardamomI’ve fallen head over heels for cardamom!  I’ve been drinking cardamom tea in the morning, and it has done great things to my mood.  It has definitely given me a fresh start to the day.

This article (see link at bottom), from Sunwarrior, lists 15 health benefits that are linked to this sweet, citrus-flavored spice.  My top three in the list are these:

  • Blood pressure – There are lots of reasons my blood pressure may be going down, such as weight loss of about 35 pounds in the last two months, but I continue to have as one of my goals, to be drug-free within the next 6 months.  My blood pressure medication is the only one still remaining.
  • Depression – Having been medicated for depression off an on for over 20 years, I am seeking a permanent “fix” that will continue to lift my mood and get me off these meds.  I am not currently taking anything for it, and I’m feeling great.  I’m cautious about it however, and I keep a close watch on my mood over extended periods of time.  I’ve been seriously depressed in the past, and I do NOT want to go there again.  I don’t know how much, if any, cardamom is helping, but I do know that the immediate result of smelling it and drinking it is a great mood and more energy.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Anything that can give me relief from psoriasis and other inflammatory problems, is welcomed into my life.  Cardamom is just one of many new things in my diet providing an arsenal against inflammation.

Read the entire list at Sunwarrior and, perhaps, find how useful cardamom may be in your life.  Even if it had nothing to do with better health, the flavor is a great reason to use it.

15 Health Benefits of Cardamom, from Sunwarrior News

12 Studies: Saturated Fat is Not Just a Heart Hazard

sat-fat-heart-hazardDr. Neal Barnard’s blog is great source of information for nutrition and wellness.  In this post, Dr. Barnard lists 12 studies that have shown the damaging effects of saturated fats in the human diet, and there are many.

Awareness has grown for many years about the dangers of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and the link they share with saturated fats.  Heart disease is one of the chronic illnesses that often accompany high cholesterol.  In this article by Dr. Barnard, other conditions such as prostate cancer, sluggish metabolism, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cognitive decline, are also linked with high saturated fats in the diet.

Here is the link to the article:

These 12 Studies Show Saturated Fat Is Not Just a Heart Hazard | The Physicians Committee.

Dr. Barnard currently serves as the president for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  They are a great Twitter follow, if you’re looking for a good source of fresh information about the links between good nutrition and good health.

@DrNealBarnard
@PCRM

Cooking without oils

One of the healthiest “mini-conversions” people can make to rid their diets of excess calories, while honing in on super nutrition, is to learn how to use alternative ingredients and cooking methods that eliminate added fats and salt.

This is one of the most important components of the Eat To Live plan that I have been following religiously.  It’s not simply a weight-loss thing, like some people suppose.  It also helps to keep cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes (Type 2), and many other chronic disease in check.

zuchtopWhile there are so-called “healthy fats” that are essential to the body, most of these are easily attained through rich natural sources such as nuts and seeds.  Even with this knowledge, however, it is difficult for people to realize that cooking can be accomplished without the use of added oils, even the “healthy” ones.

So, relearning cooking methods and using alternative ingredients are essential if one really wants to succeed in eating an optimal nutritious diet without compromising for lack of knowledge.

When I came across this post, I knew it belonged on my blog.  I have seen some good articles, and some good videos on specific techniques, but this, perhaps, is the best one yet.

Posted on Forks Over Knives, this article, by Darshana Thacker, “Expert Tips on How to Cook Without Oil”, covers most all cooking methods with alternative suggestions and ingredients.  She also discusses cookware suggestions that are helpful.

Take a look at it, and let me know what you think about it!  I’d love to hear other ideas that are not included here.

Click this link to read this great article!

Twitter handles:

Forks Over Knives
Darshana’s Kitchen

Cardamom tea

CardamomI am learning more about spices I’ve never before incorporated into my cooking, and I am finding that many, like cardamom, have extraordinary health benefits as well as exotic flavors that I have never experienced.

Having recently begun exploration into the complex world of curries, and spices used in them, I had some freshly ground cardamom that needed to be used while it was still bursting with its sweet aroma and in its most healthful state.  It smells so good that I can sit for several minutes just inhaling it from the little plastic bag where I keep it.  The thought came to mind, “just like the old days when I enjoyed several minutes of sniffing my bourbon before drinking it.”

This fine article on cardamom came up in my Google search, and I discovered its many uses.  One of the commenters on the article mentioned his using it as a tea.  Perfect!

Adding a few cloves, another of my new favorite spices, I used about 1/4 tsp of freshly ground cardamom to one large coffee mug of hot water, enjoying the fine aromatic blend while it cooled.  Stirring it a few times to keep all the spice from settling, sipping it slowly, it was one of the most enjoyable morning teas I’ve ever had, clearing my mind as well as refreshing my palate.  This could become a morning ritual, a healthful one!

A new cycle to combat obesity

Sure, most nutrition-minded people are aware that going all-in on a night of “free-love” dining at most restaurants will tip the scales against them, but still, these meals are extreme, if not downright obscene.  Yet, they are on the menu!

In an article from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, some of the raunchiest, most decadent meals are measured for their calorie count and macronutrient content, and it will surprise you how extreme they really are.

What will not surprise you, if you’re one of the many folks moving towards plant-based, high nutrient eating, is that even though these meals may be extreme, they are a fair representation of “what’s for dinner” at most of the popular dining establishments in the United States.

The article highlights one meal from five restaurants (I found it interesting that all five of these are within 2 miles of my home), including Cheesecake Factory, Dickey’s Barbecue, IHOP, Sonic, and Steak ‘n Shake .  Shocking!  Other restaurants, such as Red Lobster, are called out as well.

I know people can eat what they want, and restaurants will serve what the customers are willing to buy, but I would have to think that the culprit is something more complex, more systemic: we eat what’s available to us, without much thought about the nutritional costs.

The marketing feeds the appetite; the appetite creates the demand; the demand dictates the menu; the popularity spins the marketing cycle all over again.

The only way to stop it is to create a different cycle that employs the science of nutrition at the consumer level first:

  • reject the marketing and study broad scientific evidence about nutrition
  • with some discipline, create a different appetite from the one you have learned
  • demand what you want or eat at home
  • the restaurant industry will conform, reluctantly, perhaps, until the majority are on board
  • marketing will change

It requires some advanced attention to details from us consumers, but the payoff is a healthier world, and better choices in the marketplace.

The article, cited above, appears here:

Red Lobster, The Cheesecake Factory, Sonic Top 2015 Xtreme Eating Awards ~ Newsroom ~ News from CSPI ~ Center for Science in the Public Interest.