May 9 2016

Superfoods

 

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Summer is coming. I can tell and it’s not the weather, it is the arrival of superfoods. Not that they ever went away, but as the weather heats up so does the hype. Every magazine, every second news story, blah, blah, blah, is the new superfood…

First, you can’t live on one food – that would really be a superfood – and second, trying to make up for a multitude of sins by suddenly consuming any one superfood isn’t going to make miracles happen. 

Over and over again the research proves that there is one super diet. A plant based, whole foods diet. It is not that one diet will prevent heart disease and another type 2 diabetes and another Alzheimer’s and cancer.

It is just one diet.

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There are many studies and many personal stories. But if you want the real proof, follow the money. Corporations and health care companies are promoting a plant based whole foods diet to their clients, because it will save them lots of money on health care costs.

Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care plan providers in the US tells their doctors “Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or obesity.”

The Complete Health Improvement Program  (CHIP) in Canada showed “rapid and meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors” with a plant based eating pattern.

A study at 10 corporate settings the US insurance company GEICO showed “An 18-week dietary intervention using a low-fat plant-based diet in a corporate setting improves body weight, plasma lipids, and, in individuals with diabetes, glycemic control.”

A study from the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California concluded  “vegetarians have consistently shown to have lower risks for cardiometabolic outcomes and some cancers”

Dr. Dean Ornish, showed a regression of coronary atherosclerosis with intensive lifestyle changes. In fact they found “the primary determinant of change in percent diameter stenosis in the experimental group was neither age nor disease severity but adherence to the recommended changes in diet and lifestyle” His program is covered by Medicare in the United States.

Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr at the Cleveland Clinic showed that 99% of 198 people with cardiovascular disease on a plant based diet avoided another major cardiac event.

And finally, this week a study by the doctor’s at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona that evaluated dietary advice for doctors has concluded that “physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat.”  In the 1.5 million people studied all cause mortality is highest for those that consume meat.

It is not just that people eating a plant based, whole foods diet live longer, they cost less in health care dollars. They spend less time in hospital, take fewer medications and weigh less. 

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Every time you choose to eat a whole foods, plant based meal you are contributing to your good health. Lifestyle medicine, is a new way of looking at healthcare. The  focus is on preventing and treating the cause of disease, not simply treating the risk factors. Lifestyle medicine practitioners are asking that patients receive all the options about managing their conditions, including dietary changes. However, preventative medicine is bad for some businesses. It could eliminate the need for medications and surgery. Ask your doctor if prevention is right for you.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

 


Mar 21 2016

Not fit for consumption

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Almost 60% of the North American diet consists of ultra processed foods. Foods that contribute 90% of all added sugars to the average diet.

Ultra processed foods consist primarily of salt, fat, sugar, flavourings, emulsifiers and additives. These foods have almost no real food ingredients. They may be derived from whole foods, but are primarily cheap ingredients processed from foods; high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, cosmetic ingredients are the most common. 

These foods are calorie dense and nutrient poor. Foods that contribute to chronic, preventable diseases. 

Food processing is classified in three ways:

Minimal processing, which does not significantly change the nutritional profile of foods, such as drying, parboiling or pasteurizing, like unsweetened dried fruit, nuts, or frozen vegetables

Semi processed, means that the whole food has been altered by extracting substances, adding enzymes, or refining them, such as turning whole grain rice into white rice, or making corn syrup from corn.

Ultra Processed, which combines several semi-processed ingredients. The five most commonly eaten foods in the United States are all ultra-processed: sugary soft drinks, cakes and pastries, burgers, pizza, and chips.

The main reason that foods are ultra processed is to create foods that have a long shelf life. These foods are high in calories, easy to eat and heavily marketed. And we are buying it.

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Almost 80% of foods purchased in 2012 were highly processed, ready to eat or ready to heat, foods. Replacing one highly processed food with whole foods could save a lot of calories, reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease while improving your nutrient intake with one meal.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

 


Jan 19 2015

It’s never too late

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It is never too late to improve your health. Whether you are thin, heavy, old, young, smoker or nonsmoker, active or inactive you can change your risk of disease especially cancer, heart disease and diabetes by eating a plant based diet. Even if you have been eating meat for decades before switching to a plant based diets.

Studies done as long as 100 years ago show that those people that eat a plant based diets, even if they start later in life, live longer, healthier lives. We also see this in migration studies. When Asians move to North America it takes years of eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) to reverse their health. They have higher rates of prostate, colon and breast cancer once they switch from a traditional diet to one high in animal fats and processed foods.

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Rates of breast and prostate cancer in Japanese women and men after changing from a traditional to Standard American Diet

No matter when you start the results from the largest study ever published on Americans eating plant-based diets that found vegetarian diets associated with lower all-cause mortality, meaning those who started eating vegetarian live, on average, longer lives. 

Want to live a longer, healthier life? Eat less animal protein and fat, eat less processed food, eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. And don’t worry when you start eating better, it can change your health at any age.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Dec 1 2014

1% change

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Keeping your telomeres long keeps you young. What are your telomeres? They are the ends of your DNA. If you think of your DNA being like a shoelace your telomeres are the little plastic ends that keeps them from fraying. Once our telomeres start getting frayed we experience age related diseases, cancer and cell death.

Endurance athletes, marathoners, triathletes,  people that do the equivalent of running 50 miles a week for 35 years have the same length telomeres at 50 that they do at 20. But, what if you haven’t been running 50 miles a week for the past 35 years?

Stress management helps, Buddhist monks have healthy telomeres.  In children, reducing their consumption of  white bread keeps their telomeres long and healthy.  A plant based diet helps and weight loss helps, but what makes the biggest difference?

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Researchers wanted to find out so they took 400 women and assigned them to one of four groups. A control group, a portion control group, an exercise group and a exercise with portion control group.

The exercise group did 45 minutes of regular, vigorous exercise and after a year, no change in their telomeres. The weight loss group had no changes and the exercise with weight loss – nothing.

What makes the biggest difference is diet, specifically saturated fat. Eating 1% less saturated fat gives you one year’s worth of aging on your telomeres. 1% for one year!

Saturated fats are generally toxic to cells and this has been proven in heart cells, pancreatic cells, brain cells and bone marrow cells. The toxic effects happen in quantities that would you see in people that regularly eat animal products. People that eat a low saturated fat, typically plant based diets, have longer telomeres and slower signs of biological aging.

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This 1% change in your diet is pretty easy and is effective even if you haven’t been kind to your telomeres, especially considering the alternative is to be a marathon running Buddhist monk.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Nov 24 2014

Gluten free

When I go looking for the latest health information to write about I want to look at the science. Today two studies got me thinking about all the other misinformation that you can find on the internet.

First, the good news, a review of ALL the current evidence on the health impact of eating whole grains by researchers at the University of Warwick concludes that “myths attributed to wheat free diets are just that – myths.”

Gluten free at the grocery store

Gluten free at the grocery store

The review of the evidence suggests that besides the 1-2% of the population with specific wheat or gluten intolerance there is little to support a wheat free diet. However there is now an entire industry based on wheat / gluten free foods that may be more expensive and unhealthier than eating whole grain wheat products.

The review also compared various carbohydrates for nutritional value and found that wheat has the highest protein content, oats have the highest fat content and rice has the highest carbohydrate content.

Consumer Reports recently studied gluten free diets and found six disturbing realities behind this current trend.

  1. Gluten free may be less nutritious.
  2. You will probably be exposed to more arsenic in your diet.
  3. You might gain weight.
  4. It will be more expensive.
  5. You might be eating gluten anyway. 5% of foods labelled gluten free don’t meet the guidelines.
  6. You might miss a serious health condition. Getting a diagnosis to avoid gluten usually involves a blood test and an endoscopic biopsy. If you are having abdominal issues this could be caused by many other factors, let your  doctor make the diagnosis, resist the urge diagnose by Google.
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Consumer Reports Chart For Gluten Free Foods

 The second study I found today confirms that you get what you pay for. Funded by the Dairy Research Institute, The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Egg Nutrition Center the study states that doubling or tripling of saturated fat in the diet will not drive up the levels of blood cholesterol, but that more carbohydrates in the diet increase a fatty acid in the blood linked to diabetes and heart disease.

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I would suggest it means that if you are eating the Standard American Diet adding more fat doesn’t really matter, you are already eating too much. The research here is simply comparing one terrible diet with another and perhaps most importantly in this study they only used 16 participants. Or maybe they want to sell more gluten free foods.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Nov 10 2014

Too good to be true?

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

November is World Vegan Month and you may want to celebrate all month if you are trying to maintain your weight before the holiday season starts. With more new research showing that people on a vegan diet lost more weight, decreased their body mass index (BMI) and improved their cholesterol levels when compared to other types of eating patterns.

The International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences, published the study that compared people following one of the  following diets; vegan diet which has no animal products, semi-vegetarian which includes occasional meat intake; pesco-vegetarian which includes occasional seafood; vegetarian which includes eggs and dairy, and omnivorous, which excludes no foods. The results showed that following a plant based diets led to more weight loss and improved health.

Author and Professor, Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy says that even though the vegan diet was higher in carbohydrates people lost more weight and she says,

“I personally was surprised that the pesco-vegetarian group didn’t fare better with weight loss. In the end, their loss was no different than the semi-vegetarian or omnivorous groups.”

Avoiding all animal products resulted in losing 16.5 pounds more than the other groups and better health measures.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Nov 3 2014

Death by diet

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“Education, knowledge, and awareness are not enough.”

This statement from Dr Norm Campbell, Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Pharmacology and Community Health Sciences, at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, and  supported by more than 15 health organizations was published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology asking the Canadian government to promote access to affordable and healthy food. This could significantly reduce diet related diseases and improve cardiovascular health.

In 2010 unhealthy eating was considered the leading cause of death and disability in Canada and other developed countries. Poor diet as defined by the World Health Organization is one high in sugar, sodium, trans and saturated fats as well as low in fresh vegetables and fruits is the leading risk factor in preventable diseases. 66% of deaths each year are due to preventable cancers, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Canadian health organizations are now asking the government to provide healthy food environments to prevent diet related disease.

Do you have easy access to affordable, healthy choices? Not just at the grocery store, but where you work and where your kids go to school? I would bet that it is easier to buy junk or fast food than healthy, fresh choices.

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There is now an international campaign to reduce consumption of these toxic foods. Foods with high sugar content, refined grains and too much salt, to reduce the risk of preventable diseases.

Dr. William Li, President and Medical Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation in Cambridge, Mass says

 “All consumers should look at their diets as if food is the medicine necessary to maintain healthy, disease-free lives. Prevention is always better than a cure”

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People that live in societies that eat healthy, plant based diets, rarely contract these preventable diseases.

Would having access to fresh fruits and vegetables change what and how you eat? Let me know.

 Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Aug 25 2014

Size matters

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September is almost here and with it often comes a renewed sense of motivation. Maybe after all those years of going back to school and settling into a new routine we are conditioned to feel more motivated to change in September? And if you are thinking that after a summer of BBQs, beer and lazy summer days you need to clean up your diet I have some good news.

Size matters – especially when it comes to so called “bad” foods.

Marketing researchers at Vanderbilt University used vice-virtue food bundles to find out if having less of a forbidden food combined with a healthy food would limit calorie consumption and provide satisfaction for junk food.

The answer is yes. They found that by having a small portion of the vice foods, one quarter to one half of a serving, served together with a healthy food people felt satisfied. They also ate less calories, ate more of the healthy foods and ate less of the “bad foods”.

Variety and moderation works. Next time you want a chocolate bar, have a square of really good chocolate with fruit. Or craving french fries? Get a salad too and only eat 1/4 of the fries, then eat the salad. Researchers also mixed baby carrots with potato chips, apple slices and oreos, the combinations are endless and they prove that having a little junk food works better if you have a healthy option too.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

 


Jul 28 2014

Tour food

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The 2014 Tour de France has finished for another year, with amazing scenery, serious crashes, more than its share of wet weather and a lot of food. Riding 100s of kilometers riders eat constantly to be able to keep going day after day.  So how much food does a tour rider eat? A lot.

About 6000 calories a day.  Three times what most adults need in a day. 

It starts early with breakfast 3-4 hours before the start. Cereal, oatmeal, rice or pasta. Riders eat what they are used to consuming to avoid gastrointestinal  issues.

2 hours before the stage riders eat some more and before they have even started riding they have eaten 1000 calories. Once they start riding they are burning 800-1000 calories an hour, so a steady supply of bars, chews, gels, drinks is supplied along the way. At the feed zones riders have their specific meals and they should have eaten about 2500 calories by the end of the stage.

At the finish line it is water and soda to replace fluids and fuel. With more snacks and recovery drinks on the bus to the hotel. Then it is off to the hotel for a carefully prepared dinner and another 2500 calories with easily digested carbohydrates making up most of the meal. Lots of vegetables, protein and fat to help with recovery and add the necessary calories.

When a rider finishes the Tour they have been eating for just about as long as they have been riding. Not recommended for the general public, but a good example of how your activity level can effect your food choices.  Are you eating properly?  Take the healthy eating assessment and find out.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

Are you riding a big event?  Get your free copy of “Fuel your Ride a chapter from my Train for your First Gran Fondo and eat right for your ride.


Jun 16 2014

Quality counts

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Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that effects the way your body metabolizes sugar to use as a fuel source. It may be caused when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep glucose levels normal in your blood or when your body becomes resistant to the insulin.

Insulin, a hormone produced in your pancreas, allows sugar (glucose) to enter cells to be used as a fuel source. As you lower the glucose levels in your blood your body reduces the insulin produced in the pancreas.

Glucose, sugar from food, is the main fuel source for your cells. Being able to use and regulate sugar is critical for energy. Your liver stores and makes glucose when you need energy to keep the glucose levels in your blood in a normal range.

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Being unable to regulate glucose levels in your blood either because your pancreas does not produce insulin or your body can’t use the insulin produced results in serious complications including:

  • Heart disease, diabetes increases the risk of stroke and heart disease 2-4 times.
  • Nerve damage, excess blood sugar damages smaller blood vessels that feed your nerve cells especially in your legs.
  • Kidney damage, kidneys filter waste through a network of millions of tiny blood vessels and diabetes damages this intricate filtration system leading to kidney disease and possibly kidney failure.
  • Eye damage, nerve damage in feet, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition which can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. Contributing factors include family history, genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and excess body weight can cause type 2 diabetes. Being overweight is a significant risk factor as increased body fat, especially in the abdominal area, makes it harder for insulin to be used by the body.

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A new study from the researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health brings some very good news. They found that independent of other changes, including physical activity and weight loss, that a 10% improvement in the quality of your diet reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20%.

Researcher, Sylvia Ley, PhD, explains,

“We found that diet was indeed associated with diabetes independent of weight loss and increased physical activity, if you improve other lifestyle factors you reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes even more, but improving diet quality alone has significant benefits. We want them to know if they can improve the overall quality of what they eat — consume less red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains — they are going to improve their health and reduce their risk for diabetes.”

 The researchers also found that it didn’t matter how good or bad your diet is to begin with, but that eliminating saturated fats, sugar sweetened beverages while increasing whole grains, fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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Direct costs of diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association in 2012 was $245 billion USD which included $176 billion in direct costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla