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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What About Your Protein?

I'm sure any vegetarian or vegan will attest that the question we are asked most frequently is:

"If you don't eat meat, then how do you get protein?"

After a while, I begin to feel like a broken record as I explain that protein is not only found in meat but in nuts, beans, leafy greens, etc.  But then I always remind myself that for as long as I can remember, I also thought that meat was the place I could get the highest amounts of protein.  When I needed to gain muscle mass for a show, I would eat copious amounts of packaged turkey, canned tuna, and burgers.  And then I learned that it's not just *how much* protein you put into your body but *what kind* that makes the biggest difference.  Processed meats will not give you the same kind of protein than protein found in plants.

So, my wife was reading the only magazine we subscribe to, Veg News, when she passed this article along to me.  It is written by Julieanna Hever, the resident Veg News Nutritionist.  It is factual, concise, and debunks three of the biggest myths about attaining protein.  Please take a minute to read and maybe some of your questions about protein in a plant-based diet will be answered.

I have also posted a new poll below.  Please take a second to weigh in.  And also, as always, please take a minute to become a follower, tell your family and friends, and keep educating yourselves about what you put into your bodies.

3 Myths About Protein and a Plant-Based Diet

Resident VN nutritionist Julieanna Hever sets the record straight on plant-based protein.
The first question I am often asked when discussing a whole-food, plant-based diet is, “Where do you get your protein?” Protein has become widely recognized as a miracle macronutrient that, apparently, is challenging to acquire in effective doses. However, this is far from accurate. Let’s clear up three of plant-powered protein's three most-common misconceptions.
Myth #1: The More Protein, The Better
Humans do indeed require protein, as it is one of the three macronutrients we need to attain from our diet. Protein is involved in virtually all of the body’s structural and functional mechanisms. All of our cells contain protein and it constitutes the building blocks of muscles, hair, nails, organs, skin, tendons, ligaments, enzymes, membranes, some hormones, hemoglobin, antibodies, enzymes, and much more. However, just because something is critical doesn’t mean that more is better. In fact, when it comes to protein, consuming an excess of what we need may promote disease.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.7 grams per kilogram bodyweight per day for adults older than 19 years of age. For an average 130-pound female, that means 47 grams of protein per day. For a 170-pound male, 62 grams is recommended. Many people are consuming approximately 20 to 30 percent of their calories from protein, which equals 90 to 135 grams of protein on an 1,800-calorie diet (typical female intake) and 125 to 188 grams of protein on a 2,500-calorie diet (average male intake). This is equivalent to two to three times more than the USDA recommendations. Much of this excess protein comes from animal sources, which may be particularly damaging. Excess protein taxes the kidneys, contributes to gout, and is associated with an increased risk for many chronic diseases.
Myth #2: “Complete Proteins” are Hard to Find
The other popular misconception is that animal products are the best source of protein. One important reason this myth has been perpetuated is because the amino acids—the building blocks of protein—are assembled in a way in animal foods that more closely resembles what humans actually utilize. However, we now know that this is inconsequential. When you consume any protein, it is broken down via digestion into its separate amino acid constituents and is pooled in the blood for further use. When the body needs to construct a protein for an enzyme or to repair muscles tissue, it collects the necessary amino acids and strings them back together in the sequence appropriate for what it is currently creating. This occurs regardless whether you consume animal or plant protein. 
If you eat a variety of whole plants, you will easily attain all of the essential amino acids necessary to sustain proper metabolism and to thrive. Plus, plant protein is perfectly packaged along with an abundance of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber—all critical components for optimal health and disease prevention. On the contrary, animal protein is wrapped up with unhealthy saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Animal products are also devoid of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, and are very low in most vitamins in minerals.
Myth #3: The More Active You are, the More Protein You Need
Humans need about 10 percent of calories from protein. Virtually all whole plant foods contain at least this amount, so if you consume enough volume and variety of whole plant foods, your protein requirement will easily be met. This applies to athletes too, who are often thought to require larger amounts of protein to sustain muscle size and optimize performance. However, athletes have increased overall calorie requirements, so when they boost their intake of whole plant foods, they automatically meet their greater need for all of the macronutrients, including protein.
When it comes to protein, it is not about consuming as much as we can, but rather consuming the right amount. Whole plant foods, as provided in nature, offer the ideal amount of protein necessary for growth, maintenance, and functioning of metabolic processes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who Doesn't Want You To Know What's In Your Food?

I woke up this morning to an article that a friend posted from the News Review in Sacramento.  The article begins:

"The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization dedicated to 'Promoting Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming,' as its motto puts it, recently came out with a detailed report that reveals which corporations have joined biotech giant Monsanto and industry leaders in fighting California’s Proposition 37, which would mandate labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, on food and other products.

The report reveals that Horizon, Silk, Kashi, Cascadian Farm, R.W. Knudsen Family and others are working to defeat the ballot measure."

Wait a minute.  The last time I checked, I saw a carton of Horizon milk with a smiling cow on the front with big letters reading ORGANIC.  Riddle me this: if your product is "organic", why would you have any issue with other companies labeling their products if they contain genetically modified organisms?  Ponder that while you read the next part of the article:

"As the report pointed out, 'mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food in California is viewed as a watershed event by many industry observers.' But companies are balking at the prospect of labeling GMOs, mostly because, as the report states, 'many companies will find it logistically or economically difficult to produce foods with labels identifying GE for California while producing a different product line of foods for the rest of the country.'

It will cut into their bottom line, their profits, in other words."

Finally, the truth comes out (not that we are surprised).  It's not about providing quality food for the country.  It's not about the responsibility to our citizens to keep them healthy.  And don't try to tell me it's "economically difficult" to produce food while telling people exactly what's in it.  It's about the Benjamins.  Always has been.  Always will be.

Let's look at some of the companies that are giving, in a BIG WAY, so that you can stay in the dark and their profits can continue to rise:

"Of the $23.5 million donated so far to fight Prop. 37, here is the breakdown, by brand/corporation, according to the Cornucopia Institute:

- Monsanto has doled out $4,208,000

- PepsiCo (parent company of Izze Beverage Company and Naked Juice Company), $1,716,300

- Coca-Cola (Honest Tea, Odwalla, Simply Orange Juice Company), $1,164,400

- ConAgra (Alexia, Lightlife), $1,076,300

- Kellogg Company (Kashi, MorningStar Farms, Gardenburger, Bear Naked), $632,500

- General Mills (Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Lärabar), $520,000

- Smucker’s (R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic), $387,000

- Dean Foods (Horizon, Silk), $253,000

Additionally, the Council for Biotechnology Information—which is made up of agricultural-pesticide giants Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience and BASF Plant Science—and the Grocery Manufacturers Association each have donated $375,000. And the Biotechnology Industry Organization has put in $250,000 toward trying to make sure Californians do not have access to accurate labeling of the food they buy, as far as GMO content goes."

Surprised to see some of those names such as Naked Juice, Odwalla, Kashi, MorningStar, Horizon, etc.?  I was.  Until I read the names next to them.  When you're in bed with Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, and General Mills, you're sleeping with some powerful people.  And those big time companies are not going to want to jeopardize the booming empires that they've built and ridden like golden chariots for too many years.  There is no way they will sacrifice millions upon millions of dollars for your piece of mind.  To quote one of my favorite movies:

Rocky Balboa - "You hang out with nice people, you get nice friends. You hang out with smart people, you get smart friends. You hang out with yo-yo people, you get yo-yo friends. It's simple mathematics."

Meanwhile, there are high-profile natural and organic brands who’ve given to Yes on 37, including:

"- Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps All One! soaps

- Nature’s Path Organic cereals

- Richvale-based Lundberg Family Farms rice

- Nutiva coconut and hemp oils

- Organic Valley milk

- Amy’s Kitchen frozen meals

- Eden Foods

- Baby’s Only Organic baby formula

- Straus Family Creamery dairy

- Uncle Matt’s Organic juices.

Collectively, along with Illinois physician Dr. Joseph Mercola, Organic Consumers Association and Michael Funk, CEO of United Natural Foods Inc., they have donated $2.6 million toward the support of Prop. 37. But it’s a far cry from the big money donated by big corporations such as Monsanto, PepsiCo and Kellogg."

It makes me livid that these multi-billion dollar corporations are trying to block a ballot mandating food companies to simply tell consumers when there is genetically modified material in their products.  I am sick of being lied to!  Don't we deserve to know what's in our food, thereby know what we are putting into our bodies and our children's bodies?  If, after knowing, you still choose to eat the food, that's your call - I'm not telling you what or what not to eat.  I just want people to know the truth so they can make an educated decision rather than eating what we are used to, what is easy, and/or what tastes good, regardless of the consequences.  Do your research and make a statement with your dollar.  If not for your health (translation - if you really don't care what is in your food, as long as it tastes good), then to let people know that you deserve to know the truth.

***On a side note, I want to acknowledge the loss of actor, Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, The Whole Nine Yards, Armageddon, etc.).  He was a wonderful performer and, from what I understand, an even better person.  However, it makes me wonder.  He was also a VERY large man who had two massive heart attacks that killed him at the ripe age of 54.  It shouldn't have had to happen.  Too many large performers (John Candy, for example) stay large because that is how the industry knows them.  It's what helped build their careers. But it may have cost them their lives.  Just a thought.***

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post: Cancer Nutrition

Hello, everyone.  I hope you all have had a wonderful and prosperous first half of 2012!

I must first apologize for my lengthy absence.  As is sometimes the case, life gets in the way and we are not able to stay on top of all the projects about which we are so passionate.  In my case, I was working in an out-of-town location with very limited internet access.  Please accept my apologies and let us move on with the task at hand.

About a month ago I received an e-mail from a very passionate young lady.  She mentioned to me that she had recently stumbled across the blog and asked if I allowed guest posts.  I had honestly never considered it before but figured it would be a wonderful way to encourage others to comment, post, and discuss the benefits of healthy eating.  She has since sent me a short article that she has written about "how beneficial eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is for someone going through the battle of cancer".  This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart in many ways so I was happy to oblige.  Remember, there is a great deal of research on this topic and this is only a drop in the ocean of what can be learned.  I strongly encourage everyone to do their own research and please feel free to bring your findings to this open forum so that we all might benefit.  I will be doing the same and plan on adding a plethora of information as well.  As always, thank you for reading, tell your friends, become a Follower, and Comment!

***Please keep in mind that this article was written by someone who is trying to help and educate us all.  I encourage you to comment and discuss but I ask you to show respect to the author.  Thanks!***


Superfruits and Other Tips for Cancer Nutrition

Due to the prevalence of cancer today, a lot of people find it hard to trust the foods that most people consume in fear of their association with cancer. Unfortunately, the best-tasting foods are not always the most nutritious ones, and some can do the body more harm than good.

While foods may not directly cause cancer, they can certainly contribute to its development and progression. On the other hand, some foods may prevent certain cancers or alleviate symptoms and side effects as they fight the disease.

Superfruits and Cancer

Superfruits are good examples. Superfruits are powerhouse fruits that combine important nutrients, antioxidants and great taste for excellent health benefits. Some superfruits are common everywhere, while others are specific to certain parts of the world.

Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber are common nutrients in all superfruits. A few of these foods are especially advantageous for their cancer-fighting properties. Acai berry, avocado, blueberry, dragonfruit, grapes, mango and pomegranate are some of the best anti-cancer fruits around.

Superfruits and other healthy foods are not a cure-all for cancer, whether it is mesothelioma, breast cancer or any other type. However, cancer patients can certainly benefit from eating a diet rich in these types of foods. Healthy eating has benefits for all patients, whether they are going through cancer treatment or a time of remission.

Energy Balance and Cancer

A healthy diet is a crucial component of energy balance, says the National Cancer Institute (NCI). As one of the United States National Institutes of Health, the NCI has conducted extensive research on energy balance and how it affects the lives of cancer patients. Along with body weight, body composition and exercise, diet may alter the cancer process for good or bad. A healthy diet helps people feel better, even during cancer, and improves quality of life.

According to researchers, the best foods for preventing and fighting cancer are plant-based foods: fruits and superfruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts. Plants have less fat that animal-based foods. Additionally, they contain more fiber and cancer-fighting agents. These three nutritional components work together to support immune system functioning to fight cancer, illness and infection.

Of course, people with different cancers have different nutritional requirements. Nutrition for mesothelioma patients may look different from that of breast cancer or pancreatic cancer. Doctors, dietitians and other members of a cancer care team can work with patients to develop a healthy diet that meets their nutritional needs.