Monday, December 14, 2015

Eating meat is a personal choice?

In our society, free choice is morally acceptable as long as it doesn’t harm other beings or isn’t detrimental to their freedom. The problem with saying that meat eating is a personal choice is that the defender completely ignores the effects of his actions on the lives of millions of animals, based on the sole argument that they are not humans.

This person is ignoring, on purpose, the fact that animals are equally sentient as us and have as much a desire to live than anyone.

The challenge with animal rights is that the victims are silent. They are hidden away, far from the public’s eye and can’t speak for themselves which makes it even harder to fight for them.

The “personal choice” defense is a desperate way of setting aside important variables of a problem. It falsely implies that the speaker has considered all options possible and concluded that they are not valid points. But clearly he has just closed his mind to other opinions and chose to stay in a bubble of ignorance.

How awful is it to use a personal choice to take away an other being’s choice to live?

Hitler wanted to kill the jews, it was a personal choice. Does it make the atrocity of his actions okay? No.

Not that long ago, rich white men used black people as slaves, it was their personal choices. Was it morally acceptable? Hell, no.

Then why is it still considered alright to do the same with animals?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Six Tips to Reduce the Occurrence of Cancer


Applying the Precautionary Principle to Diet and Cancer, Six Tips to Reduce the Occurrence of Cancer


  1. Avoid dairy products to reduce risk of prostate cancer.
  2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.
  3. Avoid red and processed meat to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
  4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
  5. Women should consume soy products in adolescence to reduce risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors should consume soy products to reduce risk of cancer recurrence and overall mortality.
  6. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several forms of cancer.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

An open letter to the Australian Government

Now that a World Health Organisation agency has classified red and processed meat as carcinogenic (listed among the most cancer-causing substances, alongside arsenic and asbestos) meats must require warning labels in Australia. And the Australian Government must accept and endorse this report, giving it the publicity it deserves.

Red and processed meat products are linked to cancer, according to a report from the World Health Organisation published in Lancet Oncology. Researchers from around the world examined more than 800 studies looking at the cancer-causing properties of red and processed meats. The authors highlighted a meta-analysis that found a 17 percent increase in risk for colon cancer per 100 grams of red meat consumed and an 18 percent increase risk with 50 grams of processed meat consumed, and ultimately concluded that they are “probably carcinogenic to humans” and “carcinogenic to humans,” respectively. Researchers also observed associations between red and processed meat products and stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

To be clear this includes;

1) Processed meats, which are transformed by salting, curing, or fermentation. Everything from hotdogs and bacon, to lunch meats like salami and prosciutto;
2) Unprocessed red meats, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, and goat.

Importantly, this is irrespective of your personal beliefs and diet.  Governments and health bodies have a responsibility to inform and protect the public. There may be individuals who choose to ignore health warnings, as is the case with cigarettes, but this doesn’t discount the responsibility to issue warnings.


In addition, Safe Work Australia should add red and processed meat as carcinogenic in its Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances [NOHSC:1008(1999)]

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Red and Processed Meats Cause Cancer

Red and Processed Meats Cause Cancer

October 26, 2015

process-meat-cancer

Red and processed meat products are linked to cancer, according to a report from the World Health Organization published today in Lancet Oncology. Researchers from around the world examined more than 800 studies looking at the cancer-causing properties of red and processed meats. The authors highlighted a meta-analysis that found a 17 percent increase in risk for colon cancer per 100 grams of red meat consumed and an 18 percent increase risk with 50 grams of processed meat consumed, and ultimately concluded that they are “probably carcinogenic to humans” and “carcinogenic to humans,” respectively. Researchers also observed associations between red and processed meat products and stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Processing and other cooking methods for meat, including curing, pan-frying, and smoking, produce various carcinogenic chemicals.

Bouvard V, Loomis D, Guyton KZ, et al. Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. Lancet Oncology. Published online October 26, 2015.

 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Month




Every year October comes along. Every year during October pink ribbons are more plentiful than ever signifying National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The intentions of many well-meaning non-profit organizations, medical establishments, individual healthcare providers, and even government agencies is to promote the awareness of breast cancer as well as raise funds for research in relation to its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. These are all very noble intentions. I commend any individual or organization who truly desires to eradicate this horrible disease.




However, many of these efforts are designed to promote the business of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment through the use of expensive medical care instead of focusing on the eradication (and subsequent loss in business opportunities) of this terrible disease. Allow me to explain.

BREAST CANCER OVERVIEW


Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women and the second most common cancer in the United States (excluding basal and squamous cell cancers of skin) [1].

Estimated number of new cases and deaths due due to breast cancer in 2013 according to the American Cancer Society [2]:
  • New cases: 234,580 (total); 232,340 (women); 2,240 (men)
  • Deaths: 40,030 (total); 39,620 (women); 410 (men)

What Is Breast Cancer?

The inside of the female breast is made up of fatty tissue, lobes, lobules, and ducts surrounded by a network of surrounding lymph nodes. The outside of the breast consists of the nipple and areola.

Breast cancer occurs when malignant cells develop in the tissues of the breast. Breast cancer occurring in the ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma or IDC) is the most common form of breast cancer and accounts for approximately 75% of all cases [3]. The second most frequent form of breast cancer (roughly 10% of all cases) occurs in the lobes and is classified as invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Other forms of breast cancer are divided up into several different types and occur more rarely.

Breast cancer can be localized or metastatic. Localized breast cancer involves a cancerous tumor contained within the breast. Metastatic breast cancer involves the spreading of cancer to other organs and systems in the body. Metastatic cancer happens when cancer cells are transported via the lymphatic system (lymph nodes and vessels) or the circulatory system (blood vessels). Metastatic breast cancer most often affects the brain, liver, lungs, and bone [3].

Is Breast Cancer Genetic?

This is a tricky question. As you will soon find out, the development and progression of breast cancer is largely influenced by a person's lifestyle choices, especially their dietary habits. However, there are two specific genetic markers which confer a greater risk in person's afflicted with them.

The presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations carry a higher risk of both breast and ovarian cancer [4]. BRCA1 carries the higher risk of the two. This is the gene mutation Angelina Jolie spoke publicly about earlier this year as she made the decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. The estimated lifetime risk of developing breast cancer with a BRCA1 mutation is 65% and a BRCA2 mutation confers a 45% lifetime risk.

Getting tested for genetic risk factors for breast cancer is a very personal decision that only you can make with the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. It is not something to take lightly as the subsequent actions thereafter may involve serious and potentially high-risk medical treatments and/or procedures which may or may not enhance your overall survival chances. Like Angelina Jolie, you'll simply never know with 100% certainty whether or not surgical or medical intervention saved your life.


BREAST CANCER "AWARENESS"


The main effort in October's Breast Cancer Awareness month encourages women to get screened for early detection of breast cancer. The intended reason for this is that if breast cancer is caught early enough then more lives could be saved. Hence, more mammogram screenings equal more lives saved. The official recommendations of the American Cancer Society urges women 40 and over to get yearly mammograms claiming these same benefits.

However, the reality of the situation is far different. Overall, women experience less benefits not more with increased mammogram screening. Worse yet, more women are actually harmed by getting mammograms due to false positive tests and unnecessary treatment with chemo, radiation, and surgery that do not improve overall survival rates. As with any medical procedure or test there are always exceptions to the rule, but in the case of routine mammogram screening to detect breast cancer more harm than good is the result.

Cochrane Review - Screening For Breast Cancer With Mammography
A 2013 review of the evidence-based literature shows just that. The Cochrane Collaboration (which strictly prohibits funding from pharmaceutical or medical device companies in their research analysis efforts) performed a review of 7 randomized clinical trials looking at the rates of mammogram screenings and reduction in mortality (ie. death rate) [5]. This review included 600,000 women ages 39-74 who were randomly assigned to receive a mammogram or not. Researchers followed the women for 10-13 years during follow-up. Here's what the research authors found:

"The studies which provided the most reliable information showed that screening did not reduce breast cancer mortality. Studies that were potentially more biased (less carefully done) found that screening reduced breast cancer mortality. However, screening will result in some women getting a cancer diagnosis even though their cancer would not have led to death or sickness. Currently, it is not possible to tell which women these are, and they are therefore likely to have breasts or lumps removed and to receive radiotherapy unnecessarily. If we assume that screening reduces breast cancer mortality by 15% after 13 years of follow-up and that overdiagnosis and overtreatment is at 30%, it means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will avoid dying of breast cancer and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily. Furthermore, more than 200 women will experience important psychological distress including anxiety and uncertainty for years because of false positive findings."

A group of independent physicians, known as theNNT, also reviewed mammography screenings in reducing deaths due to breast cancer. [Note that theNNT exists to evaluate medical therapies based on their patient-important benefits and harms in the course of clinical treatment decision making. In other words, this group of physicians goes to great lengths to find only the facts to share with the medical community and general public to benefit the health and wellbeing of people and not the bottom line of industries (pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, etc.) making up our healthcare system.]

theNNT reviewed the above Cochrane Review as well as other studies in their investigation. Here's what they found in regards to mammogram screening:

- 100% of individuals saw no benefit
- 50% were harmed by false positives (1 in 2 individuals were harmed by a false positive, over 10 years of mammograms)
- 20% were harmed by an unnecessary surgical procedure (1 in 5 were harmed by an unnecessary surgical procedure over 10 years)

"Screening mammography (mammography in women without any signs or symptoms of possible breast cancer) has been studied in large randomized trials of nearly a half million women. The theoretic basis for the intervention is sound. It is presumed that therapeutic intervention at a point when cancer is visible on a mammogram but not yet palpable in the breast will, for a small number, result in earlier, ultimately life-saving, therapy. Overall mortality rate, however, was not improved in the groups in these studies assigned to receive regular mammograms. When aggregating data from those trials in which randomization was appropriate (resulting in balanced groups), there was also no identifiable reduction in deaths due to breast cancer...

In addition, despite the lack of identifiable benefit to screening mammography, women in groups assigned to receive mammograms were 20% more likely to undergo mastectomy and 30% more likely to undergo surgery. Finally, if it is true that breast cancer deaths are reduced it has been estimated that for every one patient who avoids death from breast cancer approximately 10 to 20 women are treated unnecessarily as cancer patients, typically receiving surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy...

Most recently, an observational study of the effects of screening in the United States over the past thirty years suggests that 50% of screen-detected cancers represent overdiagnosis, and that while early stage cancer diagnoses have doubled, advanced stage breast cancer is about as common today as it was before mammography was in widespread use."


Cochrane Review - Regular Self-Examination or Clinical Examination For Early Detection of Breast Cancer
If mammograms have little to no benefit then what about the old-fashioned method of self breast exams or going to your doctor for a breast exam? The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed this topic.

The review consisted of two large population-based studies [6]. Women were randomly assigned to self-examination or no intervention. The results and conclusions of the review are below:

"Two large population-based studies (388,535 women) from Russia and Shanghai that compared breast self-examination with no intervention were included. There was no statistically significant difference in breast cancer mortality between the groups... Almost twice as many biopsies (3406) with benign results were performed in the screening groups compared to the control groups (1856).

Data from two large trials do not suggest a beneficial effect of screening by breast self-examination but do suggest increased harm in terms of increased numbers of benign lesions identified and an increased number of biopsies performed. At present, screening by breast self-examination or physical examination cannot be recommended.

Some women will continue with breast self-examination or will wish to be taught the technique. We suggest that the lack of supporting evidence from the two major studies should be discussed with these women to enable them to make an informed decision. Women should, however, be aware of any breast changes. It is possible that increased breast awareness may have contributed to the decrease in mortality from breast cancer that has been noted in some countries. Women should, therefore, be encouraged to seek medical advice if they detect any change in their breasts that may be breast cancer."

Costs of Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment

Breast cancer screening, workup, and treatment costs money like anything else in the practice of medicine. You've seen the evidence of the effectiveness (or lack there of) of mammography screening, now the next question is - How much does all this cost?

Dr. Cary Gross, MD reported costs associated with breast cancer screening in a Yale University School of Medicine study earlier this year, in January of 2013. In this study, costs associated with breast cancer screening and initial workup for Medicare beneficiaries were evaluated between 2006 and 2007. Dr. Gross and colleagues reported the following:

"We found that the Medicare fee-for-service program is spending over $1 billion per year on breast cancer screening and workup of suspicious lesions. This accounted for over 45 percent of the $2.42 billion total spent by Medicare on screening and the initial treatment phase of breast cancer...

Additionally, study results indicate that for women 75 years or older, annual screening-related expenditures topped $410 million. Age-standardized screening-related cost per beneficiary varied more than two-fold across regions (from $42 to $107 per beneficiary)...

'In summary, the costs of breast cancer care in the Medicare population, when incorporating screening costs, are substantially higher than previously documented and the adoption of newer screening modalities will likely contribute to further growth,' the authors conclude. 'The growth trajectory may be steeper than projected owing to Medicare’s reimbursement strategy, which supports rapid adoption of newer modalities, frequently without adequate data to support their use.'"

Another review published in the journal Pharmacoeconomics in 2009 evaluated the overall costs of treating breast cancer in the United States [7]. A total of 29 cost-of-illness studies for breast cancer in the U.S. were included in the analysis. Estimated lifetime per-patient costs of breast cancer ranged from $20,000 to $100,000. Patients receiving chemotherapy vs. patients not receiving chemotherapy during their lifetime course of treatment incurred, on average, an extra $23,000 to $31,000 in expenses.

Much of these costs remain hidden due to public and private insurers picking up the bill. Patients see (and pay for) only a fraction of the total costs of breast cancer screening, workup, and treatment while huge profits are realized by pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and all those in the healthcare system providing their services to combat this disease. This is not to say that all is wasted. Some patients will absolutely require the best medical care available to beat this disease. However, most of these scenarios will involve cases of more advanced, serious, and invasive forms of breast cancer. Much of the screening done today detects early stage breast cancer, which as you saw in the evidence from the Cochrane Collaboration and NNT reviews does more harm than good. Efforts should instead be focused on preventing breast cancer in the first place instead of making people "aware" of the disease.

BREAST CANCER PREVENTION (AND TREATMENT)


Very little emphasis is put on breast cancer prevention during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Awareness equals further workup and treatment resulting in more money to be made by those providing the workup and treatment of breast cancer. October should instead be renamed Breast Cancer Prevention month. Prevention equals less cases of breast cancer overall and less deaths due to breast cancer in the long term. Those who benefit from this approach are the actual women (and men) who would otherwise experience unnecessary pain, suffering, and premature death due to this horrible disease.

Prevention is best accomplished by making positive lifestyle choices on a daily basis such as eating healthy and exercising. The single most important factor is eating a health-promoting diet. Adopting a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle is key to accomplishing this.

Breast Cancer Incidence (And Differing Dietary Habits) Around The World

It has been found that the incidence of breast cancer is much lower in areas of the world where traditional plant-based diets are the norm compared to high-fat, animal-based diets of westernized countries (see map below). For example, the traditional Japanese diet of 1960 consisted mainly of plant-based foods (rice and vegetables) with only a very small amount of seafood included. Total fat intake was equal to 11% of total calories. In contrast, the typical American diet in the 1980's (similar to today) is a very high-fat (approximately 37% of total calories) animal-based diet consisting mainly of meat, dairy, eggs, and processed junk food. Breast cancer death rates differ by more than 5-fold between these two groups, with Americans experiencing far more tragedy than their Japanese counterparts [8].

Recent meta-analysis of studies on dietary fat, fat-containing foods, and breast cancer risk have shown this same correlation. Higher meat and saturated fat intake have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer by 17% and 19% respectively [9]. The rich-western diet is literally serving as a cash-money machine for our current breast cancer "awareness" initiatives. The dark red regions below may as well be painted in $100 bills to more accurately reflect the link between breast cancer and our profit-based medicine system.


Breast Cancer, Diet, and Hormones

One reason why animal foods and other high-fat foods tend to increase the risk of breast cancer is due to their ability to boost female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in the body, specifically estrogen levels [10]. Higher levels of estrogen have been associated with higher incidences of breast cancer in postmenopausal women [11]. Hormone replacement therapy (Premarin, Prempro, Activella, etc.) have also been associated with this same increased risk of breast cancer in women—specifically up to 20% greater risk in women of white, Asian, and Hispanic descent [12].

The best ways to reduce your levels of circulating estrogen are to avoid hormone replacement therapy and eat a plant-based diet. 

Best Foods to Include (and Avoid) in a Breast Cancer Prevention Strategy

Your best chance at warding off breast cancer is simple. Avoid processed and animal-based foods. These are typically higher in fat and contain animal protein, both of which have been linked to higher rates of several types of cancer including cancer of the breast [13]. Fried foods, packaged products, pastries, beef, chicken, fish, milk, etc. all fit this bill and should be avoided if you wish to give yourself the best chance at remaining cancer free. Alcohol consumption also significantly increases risk of breast cancer in women [14]. As little as one alcoholic drink per day increases women's risk of breast cancer by 4%. Three or more alcoholic drinks per day increase breast cancer risk by 40%-50% in women.

Instead, women should focus on developing a diet incorporating fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts/seeds. These are the foods with an abundance of cancer-destroying phytochemicals and antioxidants to them. In particular, the food items below have been shown to have even more cancer-fighting properties amongst those in the plant kingdom in regards to breast cancer:

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) are associated with a lower risk of breast cancer [15]
Mushrooms have a protective effect against estrogen receptor positive and progesterone receptor positive breast cancer cases [16]
Flaxseeds are a great source of dietary lignans which have been shown to reduce breast cancer risk with regular consumption [17]. For more information on the benefits of flaxseeds in breast cancer prevention watch this video.

Can Breast Cancer Be Treated With Diet?

It appears that diet can play a significant role in the treatment of breast cancer after diagnosis. An article in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2006 reported markedly improved survival rates in postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer who consumed a more plant-rich diet [18]. Their diet was low in fat, high in fiber (*note* fiber is only found in plant foods), high in fruits and vegetables, and contained more micronutrient-rich plant foods with folate, carotenoids, and vitamin C.

There are also many case reports of women defeating breast cancer by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet. Ruth Heidrich, Anneliese Moore, and Kelly Binkoski are three women who did just that. You can read Ruth's story here, Anneliese's story here, and Kelly's story here. One of the most inspiring stories comes from Jessica Bowen. She overcame stage 3 breast cancer as she talks about in the video below.


CONCLUSION


Breast cancer is a horrible disease that affects millions of women worldwide. Much of it is preventable and some have even treated it with a health-promoting, plant-based diet. While many well-meaning efforts during the month of October work to "raise awareness" for breast cancer we as a society will never win the battle against this disease by performing more mammographies, conducting more breast exams, or doing more preventative surgeries (mastectomies).

Early detection has been proven to do more harm than good. It boosts profits of major corporations, businesses, and individuals alike involved in providing these services while breast cancer rates remain largely unchanged. If we want to win the war on breast cancer we need less medical care not more. By taking personal responsibility for your health and adopting healthy dietary habits in the form of a whole foods, plant-based diet you'll give yourself the best opportunity possible to never have to face this disease in the first place. You owe it to yourself to do so.

For more information on breast cancer prevention and treatment please visit the following sites:




Photo credits
Pink Ribbon: MesserWoland - Wikimedia Commons
Breast Anatomy: NCI Don Bliss (Illustrator) - Wikimedia Commons

References:
1 U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2009 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute; 2013. Available at: www.cdc.gov/uscs.
American Cancer Society.: Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2013. Available:http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-036845.pdf. Accessed September 16, 2013.
3 Bertos NR, Park M. Breast cancer — one term, many entities? J Clin Invest. 2011;121(10):3789–3796.
4 Pasche B. Recent advances in breast cancer genetics. Cancer Treat Res. 2008;141:1-10. Review.
Gøtzsche PC, Jørgensen K. Screening for breast cancer with mammography. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001877. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001877.pub5.
6 Kösters JP, Gøtzsche PC. Regular self-examination or clinical examination for early detection of breast cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD003373. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003373.
7 Campbell JD, et al. The costs of treating breast cancer in the US: a synthesis of published evidence. Pharmacoeconomics. 2009;27(3)199-209. Review.
8 Lands WEM, Hamazaki T, Yamazaki K, et al. Changing dietary patterns. Am J Clin Nutr. 1990;51:991-993.
9 Boyd NF, Stone J, Vogt KN, et al. Dietary fat and breast cancer risk revisited: a meta-analysis of the published literature. Br J Cancer. 2003 Nov 3;89(9):1672-85.
10 Dorgan JF, Hunsberger SA, McMahon RP, et al. Diet and sex hormones in girls: findings from a randomized controlled clinical trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003;95:132-141.
11 Dorgan JF, Longcope C, Stephenson HE Jr, et al. Relation of prediagnostic serum estrogen and androgen levels to breast cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1996 Jul;5(7):533-9.
12 Hou N, Hong S, Wang W, et al. Hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer: heterogeneous risks by race, weight, and breast density. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Sep 18;105(18):1365-72.
13 La Vecchia C. Cancers associated with high-fat diets. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 1992;79-85.
14 Seitz HK, et al. Epidemiology and pathophysiology of alcohol and breast cancer: Update 2012. Alcohol-Alcohol. 2012 May-Jun;47(3):204-212.
15 Terry P, et al. Brassica vegetables and breast cancer risk. JAMA. 2001;285(23):769-776.
16 Shin A, et al. Dietary mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer based on hormone receptor status. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(4):476-83.
17 Lowcock EC, et al. Consumption of flaxseed, a rich source of lignans, is associated with reduced breast cancer risk. Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Apr;24(4):813-6.
18 McEligot AJ, et al. Dietary fat, fiber, vegetable, and micronutrients are associated with overall survival in postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(2):132-40.


The Plant-Based Pharmacist's Blog: The Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Warning Signs of Clogged Arteries

By the time many people reach their 20s, blockages that disrupt the flow of blood already exist within their arteries. Responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood and life-sustaining nutrients from the heart to the rest of the body, healthy arteries are essential for maintaining a healthy body.
But when particles of cholesterol, fat, and other cells build up in arteries—thanks mostly to a Western diet loaded with meat, dairy products, and eggs—they create fatty streaks and eventually form plaques that obstruct blood flow.
In coronary artery disease—the most common type of cardiovascular disease and leading killer in the United States and Australia—these blockages affect the arteries leading to the heart, causing chest pain and often resulting in heart attack.
But blockages do not only affect the arteries in the chest. Atherosclerosis, or the thickening of arteries, can strike any artery in the system, leading to different symptoms throughout the body that can serve as early warning signs for cardiovascular disease.
While different people experience symptoms differently, let’s take a look at three common ways clogged arteries can manifest throughout the body:
Lower back pain: The arteries leading to the lower back are among the first in the body to accumulate plaque and show signs of blockage. In fact, 10 percent of Americans and Australians already experience advanced blockages in these arteries by age 20. Reduced blood flow to the back can weaken the disks that cushion the vertebrae and lead to painful herniated disks and pinched nerves. And according to studies, people who suffer from chronic back pain – the most common form of pain in the United States – are far more likely to have clogged lumbar arteries compared to those who do not experience back pain.
Erectile Dysfunction: In many cases, erectile dysfunction is an early warning sign for clogged arteries. When blood flow to the penis is reduced, sexual dysfunction results. A recent study found that screening men with erectile dysfunction for heart disease could prevent a million heart attacks or strokes over the next 20 years.
Stroke: When plaque accumulates in the arteries leading to the brain, the path for blood flow narrows, depriving portions of the brain of oxygenated blood. Without oxygen, brain cells begin to die in what is known as a thrombotic stroke.
Since arterial blockages in one area can indicate systemic damage, medications that treat isolated symptoms may not be the most effective way to treat the underlying problem. Studies show that the most powerful prescription may not lie in the pill bottle, but rather on our plates. Consuming a plant-based diet free of cholesterol and low in fat has been proven to reverse arterial blockages and improve blood flow.

clogged-arteries-signs

Friday, October 02, 2015

Herbie of the Week: Michael (He's Lost 55lbs & No Longer Has a Fatty Liver)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Michael!
In 2006, much to his surprise, Michael discovered he had high cholesterol and a fatty liver.
After doing some research on a fatty liver and health in general, he came across the plant-based diet and was inspired by the many people who have turned their life around by eliminating oil, dairy, animal products and processed food from their diet.
On January 1, 2012 Michael went fully plant-based and as a result has lost 55lbs, no longer has a fatty liver and his blood tests are all within the normal range!
Growing up I never gave my diet much thought. As a child I was slim, then slowly gained weight when I started work. I wasn't obese but certainly weighed more than I should, with my belly more and more evident.
Lunches, celebrations & dinners have been a pattern when catching up with friends and work colleagues over the years. It's the most common thing to do.
Fast forward to 2006 when I went to the doctor for a routine checkup. No symptoms, just a blood test and some basic tests.
“Michael, I'm very concerned by these blood test results,” my doctor said. “Your HDL & LDL cholesterol are very high putting you at risk of developing diabetes and of a heart attack. It also looks like you have a “fatty liver”. We need to do an ultrasound to further investigate this however you will need to start taking cholesterol tablets straight away.”
I was shocked. I didn't know how to respond to the doctor. When he saw my expression, he reluctantly agreed that I could hold off taking the tablets until after I had the ultrasound tests in two weeks.
I had the ultrasound test (a very unsettling feeling where they injected a dye into my bloodstream). I felt helpless and resigned to now turning into a sick person.
I then searched the Internet for more information about a fatty liver and health in general. I was delighted to discover medical research demonstrating that plant-based diets make us 'heart attack proof'! They also prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity and early stage prostate cancer. Remarkably, those who do not follow these diets and are now afflicted with these diseases may cure themselves by adopting them!
Doctors who advocate plant-based diets eat the same food as their patients. To my surprise, some Olympic champions, body builders and endurance athletes have also thrived by following the same guidelines. In short, these diets are for everybody.
I also learned about Dr Dean Ornish, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr Neal Barnard, Dr John McDougall and Dr Gabriel Cousens ... and more & more every day. I became interested in learning more about these doctors and the work they do. I got inspired from the many testimonials of people who have turned their lives around.
It took some time to come to terms with my new diet regime, apart from reading testimonials online, I personally didn’t know any vegans. Not one! As I got my head around this new challenge I was faced with a mixture of emotions from friends and family. They ranged from curiosity to anger. I remember my mother telling me it would be ok to be vegetarian but please, please don’t go vegan!
It took me some time to cut out meat, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs from my diet. I could have cut it out immediately, however, the peer pressure from friends, colleagues and family was overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion on what is best for your health, and these opinions were often quite vocal. It continues to amaze me how our dietary choices seem to polarise people, certainly people look at me differently now.
I made the biggest change on January 1, 2012. I had already cut out meat, chicken and eggs, but then I decided to cut out fish and dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese). To do this, I did a 21-day vegan kickstart. I also asked my nephew and niece to do this challenge together but they both refused, saying that, for them, it would be too hard.
So I went fully plant-based. I actually found that it was fairly easy and tasty once you realise that most foods I grew up with can be made vegan with a bit of tweaking. Maybe my taste buds have changed, maybe I’m just determined, but I no longer yearn for animal based foods. I bought some recipe books from the Happy Herbivore, Forks over Knives as well as online websites likePCRM. I now enjoy trying new recipes whether they be from a recipe book or one of my wife’s delicious creations.
Today...
  • I have lost over 25 kilograms (55lbs)
  • I no longer have a fatty liver
  • My regular blood test results are now all within the normal range
I have never felt healthier and could never go back to eating animals.
Even though I have changed my eating habits for health reasons, I have also learned about Carnism. Most people view eating animals as a given, rather than a choice; in meat-eating cultures around the world people typically don’t think about why they find some meat disgusting and other meat appetising, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity for survival, as is the case in much of the world today, it is a choice - and choices always stem from beliefs. When I see others eating animals I can’t help visualising the poor animal that is being eaten. I find it really sad.
Recently, I went to a French restaurant. They were proudly displaying a pig carcass mentioning to me as we arrived. I didn’t make any comment about it, however, when they learned that I was vegan they apologised to me and seemed embarrassed that they had it.
Among my circle of friends (within the same age group as me) they are all taking medications, often complaining of annoying side effects, the cost of the medicine and how often they get sick.
Learning about health and nutrition has been a turning point in my life, knowing the truth that I am empowered to live a healthier life by deciding what I put on the end of my fork.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

If God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them taste so good?

If you believe in God then surely you also believe that God is compassionate, and if he intended for us to eat animals he would have had enough compassion and foresight not to have given animals the ability to feel pain and fear. And clearly they feel both.

Whatever your religion or belief system, I think the old ‘thou shalt not kill’ is pretty self-explanatory and shouldn’t come with a get out clause of ‘except if something’s tasty’.

Incidentally, animals do taste good. Then again, probably so do people if cooked with a bit of seasoning and maybe a bit of BBQ sauce. Doesn’t mean I’m going to start chowing down on human tenderloin.

If you are a follower of Judaism, Christianity or Islam, look no further than the Garden of Eden. It was a vegan haven, and Adam and Eve were the first vegans on this planet. Genesis 1:29, God's first dietary law, states, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." Isaiah 11:7, God's last dietary law, states, "The wolf will live with the lamb, the cow will feed with the bear, the lion will eat straw like the ox, and a little child will lead them. And neither will harm nor destroy on My Holy Mountain." The beginning and the end are vegan because veganism causes no bloodshed and cruelty. Many other scriptures like Hosea 2:18 and Ecclesiastes 3:19 also profess God's love for animals.

Since animal products cause almost all of our diseases, and the human body is 100 percent herbivorous, rationalizing God's approval of this deadly fare doesn't make sense. It's awfully convenient that most people believe God, Jesus and Mohammad embrace the misery, murder and consumption of animals. Yet, those same people also believe God, Jesus and Mohammad are all-compassionate, all-loving and all-merciful, not bloodthirsty, murderous devils. These scenarios contradict each other, so it can't be both ways. Causing misery to animals and supporting their murder is causing misery to God, Jesus and Mohammad and murdering Their souls.

The THOU SHALT NOT KILL commandment should make everyone vegan anyway. Since each vegan spares the lives thousands of animals every year, honoring this commandment can only bring one closer to God.

In the Gospel of the Nazirenes, viewed as inauthentic by the Church, Jesus proclaims, "Wherefore those who want to be my disciples, keep your hands from bloodshed and let no flesh meat enter your mouths for the Lord is just and bountiful who ordains that man shall live by the fruits and the seeds of the earth alone." He also states, "Verily I say unto you, for this end I have come into the world; that I may put away all blood offerings and the eating of the flesh of the beasts and the birds that are slain by men. In the beginning the Creator gave to all the fruits of the trees and the seeds of the earth and the herbs for food. But those who loved themselves more than the Lord or their fellows, corrupted their ways and brought diseases into their bodies and filled the earth with lust and violence."

Of the 114 chapters in the Qur'an, 113 begin with the phrase "In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful." All Muslims accept that showing compassion and charity is a service to Allah. Yet, to kill animals and eat their flesh is anything but compassionate and charitable. The Holy Prophet Muhammad states, "Allah will not be affectionate to a man who is not affectionate to Allah's creatures. Whoever is kind to the creatures of Allah is kind to himself. A good deed done to an animal is as good as doing good to a human being while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being."

Animals are the most innocent beings on this planet and need the most protection. When we exclude animals from God's circle of compassion, we exclude God from our lives. God demands mercy, compassion and meekness. After all, the meek shall inherit the earth, and the meek are the animals and those who walk humbly with them.

For more detailed information about religion and veganism, check out the book Food for the Gods by Rynn Berry.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why choose plants over animals?

Why choose plants over animals?
--->Because plants are nutritionally superior.
--->Because plants promote wellness and stave off chronic diseases.
--->Because plants are sustainable and do the least harm on the planet.
--->Because whole plants are less expensive.
--->Because plants do not require horrific suffering, violence, and death of billions per year to produce.
--->Because the meat, egg, and dairy industries spend millions of dollars each year to make you think you need to eat their products.
The real question is why choose animal products? We do not need them and we are, in fact, better off without them.
*Resources:
--->30 Reasons to Go Vegan: http://bit.ly/1srlb8X
--->How to Make Plant-Based Super Simple: http://bit.ly/1x23sM8
--->Salon's 7 lies about red meat the food industry wants you to believe:http://bit.ly/1Bu7HnR
--->International Business Times' Thinking About Going Vegetarian? Here Are 5 Things To Consider: http://bit.ly/1GqwSUk
--->Nutrition FAQs Video Series: http://bit.ly/1OYJ6hj
--->6 Reasons Plant-Based Nutrition Is The Solution to The Healthcare Crisis: http://bit.ly/1Nd9lfa

Friday, June 12, 2015

What about Carbs?

Eating healthfully is not as complex as it is made out to be...especially when it comes to carbohydrates (aka carbs).
Myths surrounding carbs are pervasive and extremely misleading. You do not need to calculate net carbs or limit carbs if you are looking at food as food.
Carbs are not a food group.
Carbs are one of three macronutrients of which all whole foods are composed.
Carbs are crucial for immediate and long-term energy and are the only source of fuel for the brain.
Carbs are not just refined, calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods such as candy, white bread, and cookies, as they are often demonized to be.
Instead carbs are found in the healthiest food groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, which is what your diet should be based on.
I understand all of the controversy surrounding Beyonce claiming she is on a vegan diet. With politics aside, she is promoting her amazing, glowing, and inspiring results of following a high carb (80% of total calories), plant-based diet. I hope this contributes to the demise of the common carbophobia prevailing in society today. Carbs are healthful and are found in abundance in the most wholesome foods we should be considering the foundation of a healthy diet...a plant-based diet.
*Resources:
--->Carbs: http://bit.ly/1u3k8Rf
--->U.S. News and World Report's U.S. News Health Why You’ll Feel Flawless Eating Like Beyoncé: http://bit.ly/1IwYIlB
--->Medical Daily's Beyoncé Reveals (Unsurprising) Weight Loss Secret Is Vegan Diet: How You Can Sustain While Eating Plant-Based Meals:http://bit.ly/1FUW3hJ
and
Vegans Eat Carbs And Still Lose The Weight: Why You Should Give The Diet A Shot: http://bit.ly/1FaZd01
--->Reducing Reductionism: http://bit.ly/1FLz89j
--->T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies' Low Carb Hot Air—Again, again and again! http://bit.ly/1HvnWSP
--->Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's Low-Carb Low Point:http://bit.ly/1Ix0inC
--->Vegan Mainstream via Janice Stanger's Why Carbs Don't Matter for Vegans: http://bit.ly/1C0Pv0j
--->NutritionFacts.org on Carbs: http://bit.ly/1Kq87KJ
--->Harvard University on Carbs: http://bit.ly/1Msuv88