Category Archives: vegetarian

Three Major Threats to Global Health

Our world faces three major threats.

  1. Global Warming
  2. Daily loss of nutrient rich top soil with desertification of arable land
  3. COVID-19 pandemic

The first two threats are intimately related to each other. As the climate and our oceans warm and seas rise, the ecologic and economic consequences will be profound. Species are threatened and become extinct, biodiversity which sustains the global ecology and global economy diminishes on a daily basis. Loss of trees and native plants accelerates global warming. Melting of the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers results in less reflectance of solar energy back into space and more absorption of solar energy by the planet, producing a positive feedback loop that is cooking our planet.

Warming climate combined with loss of habitat (especially loss of rainforests) has produced a non-sustainable advance that has already caused tens of thousands of insect species to become extinct. Loss of insects, at the base of the food chain, and loss of essential microbes in our soil, threaten all species on earth, including humans.

Mono-agriculture has produced quantitative and qualitative loss of topsoil and arable land. Soil is a living organism. Arable land requires not just nutrient rich topsoil but also a diverse abundance of microorganisms that support agriculture, native plants, and the entire food chain. Ditto the effects on the health of our oceans, seas, rivers, streams and lakes.

There has been a pseudo-scientific movement away from raising animals as a food source. We have been told that only a vegetarian or vegan diet can sustain the planet. Nothing can be further from the truth!

Creation rather than destruction of arable land requires animal waste. Feeding the world with health-supporting food will require animal and plant foods. Sustainable agriculture requires animals and their poop.

To be blunt, the future of the world’s food supply and arable fertile land depends upon the poop of wild and domestic animals, the elimination of Monoagriculture, GMOs, Roundup-ready crops, and deforestation as well as addressing the threat of global warming.

How many news headlines, films, books and friends of yours say that beef is the unhealthiest and environmentally destructive foods you could be eating? Have you cut down on your meat consumption or feel frustrated about the vilification of meat, something humans have eaten for millions of years?

The most pivotal food and environment book of 2020 is coming soon!

My friends Diana Rodgers and Robb Wolf have been trying to get the word out for years about the importance of sustainability when it comes to diet, and have just finished a new book (due out July 14) and documentary film (slated for Fall release) that addresses this complex, yet critically important topic.

What is Sacred Cow? 

Beef is framed as the most environmentally destructive and least healthy of foods, but while many argue that greatly reducing, or even eliminating it from our diets, Sacred Cow takes a more critical look at the assumptions and misinformation presented about meat – and has the science to back it up!

Where can you get it? 

Sacred Cow is available now for pre-order everywhere books are sold. They’re also offering over $200 in pre-order incentives, including a free sneak peek preview link to the film Sacred Cow! Click here for more info.

After spending years analyzing the science, the book presents a solid case that: 

  • Meat and animal fat are essential for our bodies 
  • A sustainable food system cannot exist without animals 
  • A vegan diet may destroy more life than sustainable cattle farming 
  • Regenerative cattle ranching is one of our best tools at mitigating climate change 

Sacred Cow proposes a new way to look at sustainable diets. The book takes a deep dive into the nutritional claims against meat, why cattle raised well are actually good for the environment, and address the ethical considerations surrounding killing animals for food. The truth is, you cannot have life without death, and eliminating animals from our food system could cause more harm than good.  

But even if this way of raising animals is better than our current system, surely you can’t feed the world this way, right? Yep, they tackle that too!

Order it today and get all of your questions about the impacts of eating and raising meat answered in one place.   

Have a great week! 

PS – Don’t forget to order Sacred Cow today to take advantage of their valuable pre-order incentives and the preview link to the film. Receipts must be submitted to sacredcow.info/book by July 14th!

In the context of the COVID 19 pandemic I will close with the usual summary.

  1. Avoid alcohol consumption (alcohol wreaks havoc with your immunity)
  2. Get plenty of sleep (without adequate sleep your immune system does not work well )
  3. Follow good sleep habits
  4. Exercise, especially out of doors in a green space, supports the immune system
  5. Get some sunshine and make sure you have adequate Vitamin D levels.
  6. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in micronutrients.
  7. Practice stress reduction like meditation and yoga which improves the immune system
  8. Eliminate sugar-added foods and beverages from your diet. These increase inflammation, cause metabolic dysfunction, and suppress immunity.
  9. Eliminate refined-inflammatory “vegetable oils” from your diet, instead eat healthy fat.
  10. Clean up your home environment and minimize your family’s exposure to environmental toxins by following recommendations at EWG.org with regards to household products, personal care products, and organic foods. (https://www.ewg.org/)

THIS WEBSITE PROVIDES INFORMATION FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. CONSULT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FOR MEDICAL ADVICE.

Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob

The Ornish Low Fat Vegetarian Diet, does it work?

Dr. Dean Ornish has done wonderful research in the area of cardiovascular disease and lifestyle intervention. His study on comprehensive lifestyle intervention (1) is often quoted to support a low fat vegetarian diet as treatment for cardiovascular disease. But his “Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease” included several components that would be expected to improve health and decrease cardiovascular risk independent of a vegetarian diet as will be discussed below.

Let’s review what this study did.

48 patients with diagnosed moderate to severe coronary artery disease were randomized to one of two treatment groups, an “intensive lifestyle change” (ILC) group or a “usual-care” (UC) control group. 28 patients were allocated randomly to the ILC group and 20 were allocated to the UC group. Out of 48 patients starting the study only 35 completed the study,   20 out of 28 in the ILC group completed the study and 15 out of 20 in the UC group completed the study.

The intensive lifestyle change group followed this program:

  • 10% fat whole foods vegetarian diet
  • daily aerobic exercise
  • stress management training (training in and daily performance of meditation and/or yoga)
  • smoke cessation (they quit smoking)
  • group psychosocial support (3 hour group therapy sessions)

At the start of the study only one patient in the ILC group was smoking and she quit. We do not know how many smokers were in the UC group or how many quit. (I consider that a deficiency of this study. Because smoking is such a significant determinant of cardiovascular outcome, details of smoking at start and end of the study for both groups should have been reported)

At the end of five years the intensive lifestyle change group demonstrated an average 3.1% absolute reduction in the coronary artery blockage as measured by coronary arteriograms (or to put it another way, the diameter of the blocked coronary arteries increased by 3.1%). The usual care group (receiving cholesterol lowering statin drugs) showed an average 2.3% absolute increase in the coronary artery blockage (2.3% reduction in diameter). These are not huge changes or differences but they were measurable and statistically significant.

Twenty five total  “cardiac events” occurred in the 28 patients randomized to the intensive lifestyle change group over the five years and 45 cardiac events occurred in the 20 patients randomized to the “usual care” group (receiving cholesterol lowering statin drugs). But this was due to differences in the number of hospitalizations and angioplasties. There was no statistically significant difference in the number of deaths, heart attacks or coronary artery bypass surgeries.

By the end of the study 2 patients in the ILC group had died compared to 1 death in the usual care group but as mentioned above, this difference was not statistically significant.  We do not know how many deaths occurred in the 8 patients who dropped out of the treatment group or in the 5 patients who dropped out of the usual care group, nor do we know any of the other outcomes for the drop-out patients.

So there were no lives saved by the intensive lifestyle change program and no reduction in the number of heart attacks. In fact the ILC group had 2 deaths compared to 1 in the usual care group.

What does this all mean and why has the Ornish Diet attracted so much attention.?

First, I would suggest that the demonstrated benefits (reductions in the number of angioplasties and hospitalizations) are likely explained by the following parts of the lifestyle changes.

  1. stress reduction training and implementation (meditation and yoga)
  2. elimination of manufactured trans-fats from the diet
  3. elimination of unhealthy pro-inflammatory excess omega six fats (vegetable oils) from the diet
  4. elimination/reduction of processed carbohydrates and sugar.

Although the intensive lifestyle intervention included regular exercise the data show no significant difference in times per week or hours per week of exercise at the end of the study between the two groups.

The big difference was in stress management. The ILC group averaged practicing meditation and/or yoga 5 times per week (48 minutes per day) versus less that once per week (8 minutes per day) in the usual care group.

Stress reduction is a major issue in any disease and in particular in cardiovascular disease.

Several studies have demonstrated that the daily practice of meditation  improves immune function, increases telomerase activity, reduces inflammatory markers, and reduces circulating stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) independent of dietary changes.
Meditation has also been observed to improve “endothelial function”, the ability of the cells that line arteries to respond to changes in demand. (2,3,4,5,6,7)

Here is a press release from the American Heart Association 13 November 2012. (8)

“African Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with African Americans who attended a health education class over more than five years, according to new research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.”

I believe the major benefit of the interventional program was from the stress reduction and the elimination of three major dietary sources of trouble (trans-fats, excess omega 6 fats from processed-refined vegetable oils, and refined carbohydrates-sugar)

I have already discussed in other posts the problems associated with excess omega 6 fats and refined carbohydrates-sugar relative to cardiovascular risk. (9,10,11)

There is little controversy that elimination/reduction in trans-fats produces benefit. (12,13,14)

All three of these changes were essential to the whole foods approach of the intervention group.

I have also discussed the lack of data to support the contention that saturated fat from animal sources of protein contributes to cardiovascular disease. (15, 16))

I remain a strong proponent of a whole foods diet that includes a variety and abundance of organic vegetables and fruits, nuts, pastured grass-fed meat, fresh wild seafood, free-range organic poultry and eggs from that kind of poultry.  This diet represents the foods we have evolved to eat, free from added sugar, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides. This dietary approach also produces a healthy balance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid as well as a significant improvement in the ratio of potassium to sodium.

Stress reduction should be an essential part of our lives and data on this aspect of health will be discussed in future posts. References for this discussion appear below.

Peace,

BOB Hansen MD

REFERENCES:

1. JAMA Network | JAMA | Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease

2. Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators.

3. Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres.

4. A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity.

5. Meditation Improves Endothelial Function in Metabolic Syndrome, American Psychosomatic Society (APS) 69th Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract 1639. Presented March 10, 2011.

6. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation.

7. Adrenocortical activity during meditation.

8. Meditation may reduce death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients | American Heart Association

9. Polyunsaturated fat, Saturated fat and the AHA

10, Lose weight, control blood sugar, reduce inflammation

11. Sugar, a serious addiction

12. The negative effects of hydrogenated trans fats and what to do about them.

13. Trans fats in America: a review of their use… [J Am Diet Assoc. 2010] – PubMed – NCBI

14. FDA to Ban Trans Fats in Foods – US News and World Report

15. saturated fat | Practical Evolutionary Health

16. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.