Green Polka Dot Box

Green Polka Dot Box
Organic Groceries Delievered to Your Door

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meat consumption contributes to obesity.

Obesity has become a major health hazard all over the world. As the world’s consumption of meat products increases, so do the rates of obesity.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) over 2/3 of the population in the United States over the age of 20 is now considered to be overweight or obese.  

ALEXANDRIA, VA - JANUARY 28:  First lady Miche...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeMichelle Obama has recently made an effort to publicize the issue of childhood obesity in America. To her credit, she has made headway in highlighting the importance of increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, with the huge lobbying power of meat production industries, it would be politically incorrect for her to point out that meat consumption is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.

In a 2009 study at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, those who consumed the highest amount of meat per day had the highest percent of central obesity (belly fat), and those who consumed the lowest amount of meat accordingly had the lowest percentage of central obesity. (“Meat Consumption Is Associated with Obesity and Central Obesity among U.S. Adults” was written by Youfa Wang and May A. Beydoun.)  Comparing the Body Mass Index (BMI) of meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians, the meat eaters have the highest BMI and vegans have the lowest BMI.  In the middle were vegetarians who consumed dairy products and fish eaters (

“People who switch to a vegan diet typically lose about a pound a week—and this healthful prescription for weight loss doesn’t require any portion control or calorie counting,” according to Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Asian countries that have a history of traditional vegetarian diets have doubled their meat consumption in the recent years, and it is not surprising that the rates of obesity have correspondingly increased as well.   It is the consumption of higher amounts of fat and protein, and a decrease of dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables and grains that leads to this phenomenon.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Daily intake of red meat can rob the body of calcium.

BonesImage by Theen ... via Flickr
There seems to be an ongoing controversy regarding the role of a diet high in animal protein and bone health. There have been several recent studies that elaborate on this topic.  However, in sifting through the scientific literature, it is a well-established fact that protein does cause the body to lose calcium.  One study in particular, the Harvard Nurses Health Study, found that those who consumed five or more servings of red meat per week had significantly increased fracture risk.  Those who received their protein from plant sources had no increased risk. (Protein Consumption and Bone Fractures in Women, Feskanich et al. 1996, American Journal of Epidemiology, 143, 472).  

The question is—does plant protein have the same bone-robbing effect as animal protein?  Some studies, as the one mentioned above, show that plant protein does not increase the risk of fractures but there are contradictory studies on this subject.  Some of the confusion and controversy about animal protein vs. plant protein and bone loss is partly due to the fact that the meat, milk, egg, and feed-crop production industries support many of these papers through grants. It is not surprising that the conclusion of papers sponsored by these self-serving industries contain biased opinions about the superiority of animal protein.  

In reality, there are many ingredients that go into the making of healthy bones—not just protein.  The alkalizing effects of a diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables offset the calcium-stealing effects of protein.  To that end, vegetarians need to include in their diet foods rich in calcium and other essential minerals, make sure vitamin D levels are high, and there is increasing evidence that weight-bearing exercises are especially important in keeping bones healthy and strong.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meat and dairy cause increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

The arrival of 20 kilograms of fine pork produ...Image via Wikipedia
A recent Swedish study has shown that eating just one sausage, or two pieces of bacon a day, will increase one's chance of getting pancreatic cancer by 19%.  More here.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the more lethal forms of cancer.  The awareness of this deadly disease has been raised by its notable victims, to include Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  Joan Crawford, and Michael Landon, to name a few.     

The pancreas produces the enzymes that break down the fat and protein in meat, so it is not a far stretch to hypothesize that overloading the digestive track with a diet rich in meat will overtax the pancreas and make it susceptible to cancer.  A prospective 2009 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that risks of pancreatic cancer were directly related to the intake of dietary fat of animal origin.  This was a huge study, with the dietary intake of over 500,000 people being reviewed.

Only 4% of patients with pancreatic cancer survive more than five years after their disease is diagnosed. It would seem that this is a particularly viral and aggressive type of cancer, but in reality, pancreatic cancer cells take years to mature to the point of detection.  Research published in the journal Nature reveals that pancreatic cancer takes 20 years to grow to the point where it is diagnosed by conventional medical methods.   This is actually good news, giving people several years to change their nutritional intake patterns before the point of no return.

Once at the point of detection, the cancer is so advanced, there is little that can be done to stave it off.  However, in the preceding twenty years before detection, can a vegetarian diet reverse or even cure this deadly disease?  There is little research into this area (why would the cancer industry waste money on a simple and inexpensive cure?) but one study shows a constituent of cruciferous vegetables such as watercress called phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) stopped pancreatic cancer from developing in a hamster model that was given a cancer-causing agent (a carcinogen known as BOP) (Nishikawa A et al 2004). Other studies show that vitamins A, C, and E, as well as selenium and curcumin were toxic to tumor cells but not to normal cells.

There are reports of advanced pancreatic cancer patients who made a complete recovery through diet alone. Some long-term pancreatic cancer survivors credit the Gerson diet for saving their lives. This diet regime consists of a strict regimen of organic juicing, coffee enemas, and a supplementation program.  One of these survivors recounts her success story on the Health Explorers radio program (  As amazing as her story is, it is important to note that the Gerson web site does point out that the diet is not very successful with pancreatic cancer patients who have already compromised their system with chemotherapy.  Those who go to the Gerson Clinic before undergoing traditional cancer treatments with chemo and radiation have the best results.

To learn more:
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, October 24, 2011

Humans are not designed to be carnivores.

Male Lion (Panthera leo) and Cub eating a Cape...Image via Wikipedia
Why is it that a majority of the population in Western countries believe that it is unnatural to not eat meat? In reality, with our simple powers of observation, we would see that humans simply are not designed as carnivores. If we were, we would be able to easily go out into the wild, and without the use of weapons or tools, be able to readily and consistently catch enough prey with our bare hands to sustain ourselves over a lifetime. The human race would very quickly go extinct under those conditions. The development of the human brain gave us the capacity to develop and use tools and weapons, but did that ability artificially change our diet to one that is not suited for the human body?

Our nimble hands and fingers were designed for harvesting, not hunting.  Our smooth, rounded teeth were designed for chewing plants, not piercing into flesh.  Other differences, according to Dr. William C. Roberts, M.D., include the intestinal tract.  In carnivores, it is quite short, only three times the length of the body; herbivores need a long intestinal tract.  The human digestive tract is almost six times the length of the body.  Other characteristics that categorize our bodies as herbivores:  Body cooling of carnivores is done by panting; herbivores, by sweating. Carnivores drink fluids by lapping; herbivores, by sipping. Carnivores produce their own vitamin C, whereas herbivores obtain it from plant foods. 

Scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder recently released information on the research of an ancient hominid, Paranthropus boisei.  Based on the structure of the jaw, teeth and skull, they came to the conclusion their diets consisted mainly of grasses and sedges (a grass-like wetland plant).

Your dogs and cats are carnivores, and that is the reason why they don’t have heart attacks—carnivores do not develop atherosclerosis!  The insidious plaque, or atherosclerosis that causes human heart attacks and strokes, happens only when herbivores are consuming a meat diet rich in cholesterol and saturated fats.  The mere fact that humans develop atherosclerosis puts them in the herbivore category—our bodies are not equipped to handle the cholesterol and saturated fat contained in meat.

To read more:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegetarians are far less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters

Cover of "The China Study: The Most Compr...Cover via AmazonEating a plant-based diet not only is a huge preventative of cancer, but according to some scientists, switching to a strict plant-based diet can reverse or even cure some types of cancer. According to a study in the British Journal of Cancer, vegetarians are overall 12% less likely to develop cancer; however with some cancers, such as leukemia, they are far more protected (45%).

This British study is significant because currently there are very few published reports that substantiate the dietary-cancer connection. The powerful cancer industry is very reluctant to fund any research for a nutrition-based cure, and significant alternative-cure cancer studies have a difficult time getting published and publicized. However, there are some significant studies that are beginning to get attention.

One such study that made headlines in 2009 shows that ingredients found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, when combined with selenium, had a curative effect on melanoma. In fact, this combination was 30% to 70% effective in inhibiting human cancer cells. Of course, these scientists are trying to harness these ingredients into a money-making drug, however, it can be reasonably concluded that eating a diet rich in cruciferous veggies would have a definite cancer-preventative, if not curative effect.

Is the reason that vegetarians have less cancer strictly because of the protective effect of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables? Another possible reason is that animal protein actually promotes the development of cancer cells. In an interview by Kathy Freston with T. Colin Campbell (Professor Emeritus of Cornell University and author of the groundbreaking The China Study), he states that in particular, casein is the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered. His studies show that casein makes the body more acidic, alters the mix of hormones and modifies important enzyme activities which can promote cancer growth. He also points out that other animal-based proteins are likely to have the same effect as casein.

Recent studies are indicating the cancer-protecting benefits of a high-fiber diet, especially with colorectal cancer, which is the most common cancer of nonsmoking adults. It is important to point out that the beneficial effects are received only when the fiber comes from fruits and vegetables. When study participants received fiber from supplements, the beneficial effects were not evident.

Related article:
Vegetarian Diets Offer Protection from Cancer

For more information:
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meat is the perfect breeding ground for deadly bacteria.

Escherichia coli: Scanning electron micrograph...Image via Wikipedia
Many people who eat a carnivorous diet would shift to a plant-based diet if they only knew of the potential for dangerous bacteria and viruses living on the raw meat and poultry they bring home from the grocery store.  

According to the USDA website and fact sheets, these deadly bacteria and viruses include:

Clostridium botulinum—a bacteria responsible for several cases of botulism.  In August and September 2001, several cases of this life-threatening disease were reported, caused by frozen and fully cooked products.

Campylobacteraccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diagnosed campylobacteriosis occurs in about 13 cases per 100,000 in the United States annually. While most of the people who contract campylobacteriosis recover within 2 to 5 days, some Campylobacter infections can be fatal, with an estimated 124 deaths each year.

E. coli--  E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses. A particularly dangerous strain of E. coli (non-O157 STEC) may be present in cattle, on beef carcasses, in beef trimmings destined for ground beef production, and in ground beef from federally regulated establishments and retail markets.

Listeria monocytogenesAccording to the CDC, animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such as meats and dairy products. Once contaminated, the bacteria can live in food factories for years.

Norovirus—Although this virus is usually spread from person to person, strains of Norovirus exist that are uniquely associated with animals and have been found in retail meat samples.

Salmonella--the most common bacterial infection reported. These are microscopic living creatures that pass from the feces of animals to other animals.  The bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of infected animals. Symptoms of salmonellosis are usually vomiting and diarrhea with recovery within a few days, although the disease is potentially life-threatening to those with weakened immune systems.

There is absolutely no guarantee that the meat you bring home from the grocery store does not include pathogenic bacteria.  Just touching raw meat without immediately washing hands can spread the bacteria throughout the kitchen and home.  Safe meat handling procedures can reduce but not eliminate the potential for food-borne illness.   Even after cooking meat to the proper temperature to kill bacteria, the possibility of bacterial growth actually increases after cooking, because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. 

To find out more about the dangers of pathogenic bacteria in the meat supply, visit the USDA and CDC websites.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A vegan diet drastically reduces asthma symptoms.

vegetablesImage via Wikipedia
An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs, notably airway inflammation and constriction. The exact cause of asthma is still unknown, but there are several known triggers including allergies, environmental pollutants and dietary intake. Several recent studies now suggest a vegetarian diet consisting of high consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts can greatly improve asthmatic symptoms while  the increasingly prevalent fast food diet of Western countries can exacerbate asthma.

In particular, high burger consumption is associated with higher lifetime asthma prevalence for children.  In contrast, children who consumed higher amounts of fruits and vegetables have a lower incidence of asthma. (Read more: In a study led by Dr. Kristen Wickens of the Wellington Asthma Research Group, research found that eating more than one hamburger a week actually doubles the risk of asthma attacks and wheezing in children.   

What is it about fast food that increases asthma symptoms?  The exact cause is unknown, but fast food contains known asthma triggers such as the high content of omega-6 fat. Preservatives of highly processed food are also known triggers.  In particular, sulfite additives, such as sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium sulfite, are commonly used in fast food preparation.

When put on a vegan diet, asthmatics note significant clinical improvement in markers such as vital capacity, FEV1, and physical working capacity.  In one study, an incredible ninety-two percent of patients had significant improvement on their vegan diet which excluded all meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.  (J Asthma. 1985;22:45–55).  In another study, children who got the most calories from cereal and rice and the most protein from cereals, nuts, starch, and vegetables were the ones most protected against wheezing, according to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), an Auckland, New Zealand-based group, which has been studying the diets of more than 700,000 children ages 6, 7, 13, and 14 from 53 countries, including the U.S.

The reason why vegetarian diets help to improve asthma is most likely the high content of antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and nuts.  Vitamins C and E , beta carotene and selenium are thought to provide important defense. These antioxidants may help reduce lung swelling and irritation (inflammation) caused by cell-damaging chemicals known as free radicals. Vitamin C is found in peppers, berries, citrus fruit, kiwis, and green vegetables from the cabbage family. These green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are high in carotenoids. Wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, and grains are high in vitamin E. Vegetarian sources of selenium include wheat germ and brewer’s yeast.
Enhanced by Zemanta