My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘happy healthy long life’

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57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan as Taught to Nurses

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan


Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals, its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North America. Read these blogs to find out about the health benefits or going vegan or just provide better information to your patients.


All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.

  1. Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount ofsaturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.
  2. Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.
  3. Fiber. A diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.
  4. Magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.
  5. Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  6. Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
  7. Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that antioxidants helpprotect your body against forming some types of cancer.
  8. Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.
  9. Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.
  10. Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.
  11. Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet.

Disease Prevention

Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.

  1. Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
  2. Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
  3. Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
  4. Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.” Read more about it here.
  5. Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
  6. Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
  7. Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
  8. Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
  9. Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.
  10. Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  11. Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.

Physical Benefits

In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits. Find out how a vegan diet makes your body stronger, more attractive, and more energetic.

  1. Body Mass Index. Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower BMIs–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.
  2. Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues. Read more about weight loss and a vegan diet here.
  3. Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher. This blog post in Happy Healthy Long Life describes how NFL tight-endTony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energy–while playing football.
  4. Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.
  5. Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.
  6. Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.
  7. Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.
  8. Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.
  9. Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger, healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.
  10. PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.
  11. Migraines. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines. Read more about the food-migraine connection in this article.
  12. Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.

Too Much in the American Diet

The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on too much of unnecessary food products or toxins. The following list explains how a vegan diet can eliminate these problems.

  1. Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for osteoporosis (see above).
  2. Cow’s milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may be lactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating cow’s milk from your diet, you are improving your overall health.
  3. Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American diet is too high. While sometimes disputed, it has been shown that eggs can raise cholesterol levels.
  4. Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed has mercury in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury in your body when you eat fish.
  5. Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal bones.

Other Benefits

In addition to the health benefits above, following a vegan lifestyle and diet also provides these benefits as well. From helping the environment to avoiding serious bacterial infections, learn other benefits to eating the vegan way below.

  1. Animals. Many people begin a vegan diet out of concern for animals. Whether opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food or eating animals in general, going vegan will help your conscience rest easily.
  2. Environment. Growing plants takes much fewer resources than growing animals. By eating vegan, you can help reduce the toll on the environment.
  3. E. coliE. coli comes from eating contaminated red meat and is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children, those with compromised immune systems, and elderly people can become extremely ill or die from E. coli. Eating vegan means completely avoiding the risk of E. coli infection.
  4. Salmonella. Another gastrointestinal illness from animal products, salmonella food poisoning is closely related to E. coli. The most frequent way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw eggs or raw chicken meat from chickens infected with salmonella. Again, going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.
  5. Mad cow disease. It’s safe to say that most people would want to avoid contracting a fatal, non-treatable disease. One way to ensure you don’t get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is by not eating animals infected with mad cow disease. While the incidence of mad cow disease is not reportedly so high in North America, it does exist.
  6. Global food supply. Feeding grain to animals meant as food sources reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Many people will go hungry while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Eating vegan ensures that you have removed yourself from the participation of this imbalance.
  7. Hormone consumption. Eating animals that have been given hormones to speed growth (a common practice in the meat industry) means those hormones go into your body. Not only can this disrupt the natural balance of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have shown to cause tumor growth in humans.
  8. Antibiotics. Antibiotics are frequently given to feed animals, which can lead to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in feed animals.

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The Mediterranean Diet Myth – Vegetables, Fruit, Naturally Low Caloric Density, Hard Physical Work, Yes! Olive Oil, Nuts, Seeds, & Chocolate? I Don’t Think So!

The Mediterranean Diet Myth – Vegetables, Fruit, Naturally Low Caloric Density, Hard Physical Work, Yes! Olive Oil, Nuts, Seeds, & Chocolate? I Don’t Think So!

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I Thought Those High HDL’s Were My Ace in the Hole – Until I Read Dr. Lawrence Rudel’s Research

The Green African monkeys metabolize fat in the same way as humans, so they’re good stand-ins.. 

At the end of five years, their autopsies showed that the monkeys who were fed monounsaturated oil (olive) had higher HDLs (the good cholesterol) and lower LDLs (the bad cholesterol) than the ones fed the saturated fat diet.  The big surprise here:  Both groups had exactly the same amount of coronary artery disease.  The higher HDLs & lower LDLs of the olive oil group were meaningless.

Dr. Lawrence Rudel

If you received this post via email, click here to get to the web version with all the links–and to post a comment.

One week until my Utah “Centenarian Strategies” presentation–and except for some minor tweaking, it’s finished!

After May 3rd I’ll be back to blogging!  I’ve really missed it.  Posting on Facebook is just not the same.

I wanted to share a few slides that help explain why in spite of eating what I thought was a healthy diet–and exercising regularly–my weight continued to climb as I got older.

Maybe you’ve noticed the same thing yourself–& wondered why.

My weight continued to climb.

My cholesterol continued to climb.

My blood pressure continued to climb.

The Myth of the Mediterranean Diet – It Can Get You Fat

After seeing the Greek islands for myself last May, I understood why the Mediterranean Diet got its reputation for being heart healthy.  Steep hills, homegrown food, and isolation.

Imagine living on a craggy isolated Greek island, post-World War II.  You had to walk up and down steep hills everyday to tend to your garden and your animals.  There was no processed food coming onto the island.

You lived off of what you could grow yourself–tomatoes, greens, vegetables, fruits, and the wild purslane (high in omega-3s) growing on the hillside.  Sure you had a little cheese, fish, wine & olive oil–and fava beans.

You were heart-healthy because you worked hard, ate lots of plants, a little fish, and a little wine.  And that heart health came in spite of the olive oil–not because of it.

What’s the real story behind the virtues of the Mediterranean Diet?

The authentic post-World War II Mediterranean diet of Crete–lots of physical labor coupled with lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and just a little bit of olive oil, wine, & fish.

Br J Nutr. 2004–when researchers went back to Crete to look at the health of the islanders 50 years later–the group with the highest olive oil (MUFA) consumption had the highest heart disease, and those with the lowest olive oil intake had the the lowest heart disease.  Click here and here for more about why olive oil & the monounsaturated fats aren’t exactly health food.

The data on which the Mediterranean Diet is based came from the 1950’s.

At that time the people on the Isle of Crete had the lowest all-cause mortality. It was post-WWII, they were poor, didn’t have a lot to eat, ate mostly fresh fruits & veggies from their gardens, walked 9 miles a day, worked at hard physical labor and the highest consumption of oil was 3 TBS a day–and small amounts of fish. Big difference from how we live today.
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Drs. Lawrence Rudel, Dean Ornish & Robert Vogel on Olive Oil

  • Vogel:  Contrary to our hypothesis, our study found that omega-9 (oleic acid)–rich Olive Oil, impairs endothelial function after eating.  If you’ve been using olive oil because you think it’s healthy, it’s time to think again. The olive oil constricted blood flow by a whopping 31% after a meal in a Vogel’s study.  Dr. Robert Vogel
  • Rudel:  Rudel ran a five year study feeding olive oil and saturated fat to African Green monkeys.  The monkeys metabolize fat in the same way as humans, so they’re good stand-ins.. At the end of five years, their autopsies showed that the monkeys who were fed olive oil had higher HDLs (the good cholesterol) and lower LDLs (the bad cholesterol) than the ones fed the saturated fat diet.  The big surprise here:  Both groups had exactly the same amount of coronary artery disease.  The higher HDLs & lower LDLs of the olive oil group were meaningless.  Rudel later repeated the study on rodents, and got the same results.  Dr. Lawrence Rudel
  • Ornish:  It’s 100% fat and 14% of it is saturated. At 120 calories a tablespoon it’s very easy to eat too much of “a bad thing”.  It won’t raise your LDL as much as butter or other saturated fats will,  so it might look like it’s reducing your cholesterol, but it’s still raising it.  It’s just not raising it as much other fats would!  It’s the omega-3’s that reduce inflammation and are “heart healthy”, and olive oil has very little omega-3, maybe 1%. It’s mostly omega-9, which has been shown to impair blood vessel function. 

The Myth of High HDL’s

There’s no doubt about it.

Eat a lot of nuts & olive oil, drink alcohol & you’ll raise your HDL’s.  But, are all high HDL’s created equal?

Turns out, there’s good HDL & there’s bad HDL.  Bet you didn’t know that!

It’s not about how high your HDL’s are.  It’s about how effective they are–and that’s called “Efflux Capacity”.

The HDL Catch-22:  HDL is altered in the presence of systemic inflammation and its ability to inhibit inflammation & transport LDL becomes compromised.

  • Nuts are loaded with inflammatory omega-6s, that could impair HDL.
  • Belly fat is an engine for inflammation, that could impair HDL.
  • Olive oil is inflammatory, and may impair HDL.
  • The typical Western DIet is inflammatory, and may impair HDL.
  • A diet devoid of vegetables & fruit is inflammatory, and impair HDL.
  • A diet where the omega-6s (found in oil, nuts, saturated fat, animal products, & processed foods) far exceeds the omega-3s (found in flax, chia, greens, vegetables, & fish) is inflammatory, and may impair HDL.
  • Worry less about how high or low your HDL’s are–and worry more about what you’re eating that’s inflaming your blood vessels.

Read more about HDL’s & Efflux Capacity here.  A must read!

Read more about Olive Oil here.

Check Out the Omega-6 to Omega-3 Content of Nuts & Seeds

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Chart Created by Joanne L. Mumola Williams, PhD, Foods for a Long Life

The ideal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio should be between 1:1 to 4:1, to prevent inflammation–and it’s not so easy to do!  The typical Western diet has a ratio of 17:1.

Oil, nuts, seeds, corn-fed animal products, trans-fats, & processed foods are the biggests sources of inflammatory omega-6’s.

The more omega-6’s you are eating, the harder it is for plant-based omega-3’s like greens/flax/chia to convert into the kind of omega-3’s you need to prevent inflammation!

But, if you cut out the oil & nuts–then the chia/flax/greens REALLY DO CONVERT into DHA and EPA–the kind of anti-inflammatory omega-3s we need for a healthy brain/arteries/body.   I had mine tested.  I know that plant-based no-added oil or nuts really works!

Why I Gained Weight & Inflammation on the Mediterranean Diet

Eating just a small 1/3 cup of almonds a day.

Eating just a few squares of super-dark 85% cacao chocolate a day.

Eating just 3 TBS. of olive oil a day. I used it to cook with, to roast vegetables, in my salad dressings, & as a “dip” for my bread.

I had no idea how much fat & calories were in these Mediterranean gems until I tracked them for this presentation slide.

846 extra calories a day from chocolate, nuts, & olive oil.

84% of those calories are from fat.

21% of those calories are from saturated fat.

I was consuming 84.3 grams of fat  (21.1 grams as saturated fat) just from nuts, olive oil & chocolate – and that’s a conservative estimate.

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The Veg-Heavy Green Smoothie Snack Compared to Handful of Almonds????  No Contest!!


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Compare the Nutrients in the Green Smoothie to the Nuts?

For some perspective–those 5815 mgs of omega-6’s from almonds are practically a day’s worth–although it’s relative to how many omega-3’s you consume.  If you’re also eating tahini, more nuts & seeds, oils, meat, & processed foods—you can only imagine what your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio looks like!

Anyone as surprised as I was from these statistics?

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