Health tips and information that can help educate vegans.
Eating Meat Can Lead to Increased Cancer Risk
For all the advantages we enjoy in high-income, industrialized societies, an incredibly high cancer rate is one of the high prices we pay. Committed vegans will tell you, meat can be more than murder, for some, doubling-down on a thick, juicy steak could be suicide.
The mounting evidence is staggering. For cancers of the esophagus, lung, pancreas, stomach, colorectal, endometrium, and prostate, eating beef, pork or lamb – as well as processed meat – probably leads to increased cancer risk, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). The World Health Organization has determined that dietary factors account for at least 30 percent of all cancers in Western countries and up to 20 percent in developing countries, while studies from England and Germany show vegetarians are 40 percent less likely to develop cancer, compared to meat eaters.
And the numbers are even better for vegans, vegetarians who abstain from all animal-based products, not just meat.
For some cancers, the causative effects of meat-eating are especially high, with one Harvard study showing that meat-eaters have approximately three times the colon cancer risk, compared to people who rarely touch the stuff. A diet high in fiber, fruits
Chill the Grill
The great American pastime – putting on the chef’s hat and cooking steaks on the grill – could be one of our deadliest.
Grilling is doubly dangerous for a number of reasons. First, meat is high in animal protein and saturated fat, both bad for anyone battling high cholesterol, escalating blood pressure and heart disease. Second, the fat content of meat and other animal products increases hormone production, thus upping the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.
And the final threat, and perhaps the scariest of all is that grilling or broiling meat on a grill results in fat dripping on the hot fire and producing carcinogenic compounds with names like heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are believed to increase cancer risk.
A fairly consistent association between grilled or broiled, but not fried, meat consumption and stomach cancer implies that dietary exposure to PAHs may play a role in the development of stomach cancer in humans.
Almost all the studies point in the same direction: a diet high in fruits, vegetables, grains
Plant foods are also naturally low in fat and rich in antioxidants and other anti-cancer compounds. Not surprisingly, vegetarians are at the lowest risk for cancer and have a significantly reduced risk compared to meat-eaters.
With cholesterol consumption, the numbers don’t lie. While beef tallow and pork fat have astronomical saturated fat levels of 50% and 39%, respectively, corn, canola, and other plant-based oils offer up a fraction of the artery-clogging fat, barely over 10%. Even better, vegetable oils are cholesterol-free. More on that later.
Numbers like these are important because cholesterol, to be blunt, is a killer. Every day, nearly 2,600 Americans die of some type of cardiovascular disease, an average of one death every 34 seconds, and 7.1 million Americans have had a heart attack during their lifetimes.
These facts are upsetting, but the good news is that eating habits, exercise, and other lifestyle factors have a direct impact on heart health. Stick to a healthy lifestyle and heart disease can usually be prevented and sometimes reversed.
One of the best ways to a healthy heart is choosing a vegan or plant-based diet, one naturally low in cholesterol.
While we all know that high levels of it aren’t good for us, what exactly is “cholesterol” and how do we cut it from our diets and (hopefully) our bloodstreams without resorting to statins or other drugs? Webster defines it as “a steroid alcohol that is present in animal cells and body fluids that functions as a precursor molecule in various metabolic pathways,” adding, significantly, that it “may cause atherosclerosis.”
Our livers manufacture cholesterol, which is then used to make hormones and cell membranes. Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dl) of blood serum.
One common misconception—though it’s found in animal products, cholesterol is not exactly the same as fat, which can be found in both animal and plant-based foods. Another significant point to consider: Unlike many carnivorous animals, human bodies make cholesterol, all the cholesterol our bodies need. So we’re not designed to
So we need cholesterol, but not nearly as much as we, as a culture, are consuming. Statistics bear this out. Over 107 million Americans have cholesterol levels over 200, with the average level of coronary artery disease victims being 225. The federal government’s recommended maximum cholesterol level is 200, but experts agree that a number closer to 150 (or lower) is optimal.
And cutting cholesterol isn’t as simple as opting for leaner cuts of meat; opting for chicken over steak usually isn’t enough to get our cholesterol to an optimum level. In fact, chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef (about 100 milligrams per serving) while the numbers for shellfish are off the charts.
The best option for dropping our cholesterol levels – and keeping them low – is by adopting a vegan diet and overall healthy lifestyle.
The good news is that plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains don’t contain cholesterol. So while making the switch can be a challenge, for heart health, it’s a no-brainer.
High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure- The Vegan Solution
Most of us know about the strong connection between cholesterol and heart disease, but high blood pressure (aka hypertension) can be equally dangerous and affects more than a quarter of America’s overall population, and is especially prevalent among the African-American community.
Often called the “silent killer” because there are no outward symptoms, high blood pressure is a serious health risk that can lead to heart disease and stroke. And the numbers cited above show that tens of millions of Americans are living with this usually preventable condition.
What is High Blood Pressure?
While the precise definition of “high” when referring to blood pressure varies from source to source,
Divided into two numbers – systolic and diastolic – blood pressure is said to be high when the systolic or upper number is 140 or higher and when diastolic is 90 or above. For example, you’ll be diagnosed with high blood pressure if your reading is 145/85 or 135/95, because, if either number is high, your cardiovascular health is at risk. Most people diagnosed with hypertension fall
One of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure in our culture is the incredibly high level of sodium in the fast-food and packaged, processed foods we
Losing weight, eating less fat, exercise and stress reduction techniques are all beneficial, but studies have shown that one of the most effective and “doable” cures for high blood pressure is living a Vegan Lifestyle with a low-fat, low-sodium diet and moderate exercise. In many cases, following a vegan diet has proven more effective than a simple low-fat diet, exercise alone and even medication in lowering blood pressure on a consistent basis.
And by following a vegan diet – focusing on fresh vegetables rather than canned foods – you’ll eliminate most of the deadly sodium in your diet. In their natural state, plant foods—grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits—have almost no sodium. Fresh is best, but frozen fruits and vegetables are acceptable, as long as no additional salt has been added to the mix.
The contrast in
Black beans, navy beans and cauliflower each have less than 10 grams per serving. Even better, bananas, apples
Choosing a vegan, or near-vegan diet is the most straight-forward way to reducing high blood pressure, not to mention your cholesterol and any extra pounds you’re looking to shed.
It’s Hard to Find a Fat Vegan!
Even in America, where over a third of our population falls into the category of “obese,” people of all ages who say “no” to all meat, poultry, fish and animal products tend to get trim and stay trim, without conscious dieting or extreme amounts of exercise.
A vegan diet may hold the keys to reversing our current trends of diet-related cancer, diabetes and general obesity plaguing America today.
Simply put, most leafy green vegetables and legumes are more filling and far less
calorically dense than sugar-filled drinks and treats, not to mention artery-clogging fatty meats and cheeses. As a strict vegan, you can, with a few exceptions, eat all you want and maintain a healthy weight!
For years, the meat and dairy industries – backed by the Federal government – have spread a message that meat, cheese, milk and other animal and dairy products were essential to glowing health. Instead, while our servings have grown larger, so have our waistlines. Take a look at America’s malls and vacation hotspots, most of which are packed with people in the 50s, 40s, 30s, even a few barely out of their teens, dependent on canes, walkers
Compare the kids on today’s playgrounds with images from the 1940s and 50s; the difference in body types is shocking. And the high rate of diabetes among this teen and pre-teen population is shocking. Some experts even predict that one-in-three children born in the year 2000 will develop Type II Diabetes, the type closely associated with poor diet and obesity.
While New York’s Mayor Bloomberg has pointed out the ugly truth about “super-sized” sugary sodas. Other statistics point to America’s meat and cheese problem. In 1909, the average American ate less than four pounds of cheese a year; these days the number is almost 35 pounds.
As more Americans embrace a vegan diet they’re discovering the amazing health benefits.
Some activists – who nobly choose to go meat-and-dairy-free diet because they care about animals and the environment – are finding a delightful side effect. While reducing their carbon footprints, they’re reducing their waistlines too. Others fear the serious health risks associated with a meat-and-dairy dense diet.
A third group is, quite simply, VAIN. And that’s okay too. Just check the sales of the potty-mouthed diet book “Skinny B****.” Written by a former model, it lays out a simple and extremely filling vegan diet that will help most women (and more than a few men) fit into any pair of skinny jeans.
And, while they may hem-and-haw about the details, most dieticians and doctors will admit that if you give up animal products, drive-thrus, and processed food, you’ll be healthier, more energized, and, yes indeed, skinny.
For Americans raised on the advertising “gospel” of cow’s milk and the ubiquitous food pyramid, it seems counter-intuitive that a vegan diet could be compatible with battling the effects of osteoporosis. Isn’t it common knowledge that people fighting to maintain bone density need all the milk and animal protein they can handle?
Instead, meat and dairy may be the culprits! Animal protein tends to leach calcium from bones, with much of it being excreted through urine. And animal proteins are packed with amino acids high in sulfur that converts to sulfate, which tends to acidify the blood. This highly unpleasant process then causes bones to dissolve into the bloodstream, filter through the kidneys and on into the urine.
Meat and eggs are especially high in these sulfur-containing amino acids, much higher than the levels found in the plant food staples of a vegan diet. In fact, a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that eliminating animal proteins from the diet actually cut calcium losses in half.
The Skinny on Milk
For decades, Americans have been told that milk builds strong bodies and bones.
However, in-depth studies from all corners of the globe are showing that other factors (including exercise) help maintain bone density far better than consuming large servings of milk, which – along with smoking, caffeine, and consumption of other dairy products – might actually contribute to the brittle-bone problem in societies that eat a lot of meat and dairy.
A Harvard study of over 77,000 women found that those who drank three or more glasses of milk a day showed no reduction in the risk of hip or arm fractures, compared to those who drank little or no milk. In fact, women who drank milk actually showed a slightly higher fracture rate than those who abstained.
While studies are showing it doesn’t work, the motivation prompting America’s “milk mania” is valid—we all need calcium! For many, a vegan diet is the best way to achieve the 800 daily milligrams of calcium recommended for Americans.
Some of the same studies indicating that milk doesn’t actually build bones show that veggies do! Leafy green vegetables and legumes are not only great sources of calcium, but the body’s all-important absorption rate is higher than with milk and other animal protein sources.
The calcium found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, kale and other leafy greens absorbs at a much higher rate than the calcium found in milk, and the same applies to pinto beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas and other common legumes, all of which are high in quality calcium.
If kale isn’t your go-to snack, citrus juice can offer a sweeter option. For an intense bone-building dose, calcium-fortified orange juice (which can have up to 270 milligrams per cup) absorbs at a higher rate than cow’s milk.
Rich in complex carbs, antioxidants, fiber and iron, almost all the staples of a vegan diet have limited fat and no cholesterol so they not only lead to healthy bones but also a healthy heart.
Vegans Outsmart Heart Disease
It’s hot off the press—A recent article in The New York Times reports that scientists have found another connection between eating red meat and heart attacks.
The culprit in this Cleveland Clinic Study wasn’t the high level of fat and cholesterol found in red meat, it was “a little-studied chemical that is burped out by bacteria in the intestines after people eat red meat. It is quickly converted by the liver into yet another little-studied chemical called TMAO that gets into the blood and increases the risk of heart disease.”
In a word: Yuck!
The level of TMAO found in the body predicted the heart attack risk in humans, while TMAO also caused heart disease in mice. And, yes, regular meat eaters had much higher levels of TMAO than comparable vegetarians and vegans. The study’s findings indicated that the often-noticed association between red meat consumption and heart disease risk might be related to more than just the saturated fat and cholesterol in red meats like beef and pork.
Making the Connection
The Cleveland Study is just the latest one finding a strong correlation between eating meat and heart disease, and they all find that heart disease is the largest cause of death in America and other developed countries.
Another large-scale, 15-year study looked at more than 44,000 men and women living in Britain, with a sizeable portion of the group (34%) being vegetarian or vegan. Over the course of the study, 1,066 people with heart disease and 169 died from heart disease-related causes. Vegetarians participating in the study had a 32% lower risk of developing heart disease than those who ate fish and meat.
Positive factors for the large number of vegetarians participating included consistently lower blood pressure (obviously a big indicator of heart disease) and lower body mass index (BMI), another positive sign. Overall, the study found vegetarians are 28% less likely to develop heart disease, the researchers say.
It will be a few years before results of “double-blind” vegan vs. meat-eater clinical studies are complete, but lots of heart-healthy seniors are living evidence of the benefits of a vegan diet, including lots of former meat eaters who fought heart disease and other obesity-related conditions for years.
And many experts agree this type of diet is the way to go, including retired Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., who believes a vegan, low-oil diet can reverse the effects of this disease. He credits switching to a plant-based diet with dramatically dropping the cholesterol levels while widening the coronary arteries of his patients.
One inspiring example spent eight years in the White House. Looking better in his 60s than he did in his 40s, former President Bill Clinton has embraced a “plant-based” diet. The former McDonald’s devotee is just one of millions of Americans reversing damage to their hearts and circulatory systems by avoiding all animal products and limiting plant-based fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
Go Vegan and Kick Diabetes
Guess what’s not Big in Japan? Diabetes! At least not among those who still eat a traditional Japanese diet high in “plant-delivered foods” like rice, beans, and, obviously, fruits and vegetables. The rate of diabetes is also low in Thailand and China, where people eat a lot of rice and other grains, starchy vegetables, bean dishes, and noodles.
What happens when people from these countries move to the West or adopt a fast food-based American diet? You guessed, their rate of Type 2 diabetes soars.
Type-2 diabetes results when your body stops responding normally to insulin, the hormone that pulls sugar from the bloodstream into cells, where it’s used for energy. When left untreated or poorly treated, Type 2 Diabetes can result in kidney failure and loss of fingers, toes or even limbs. Each year, more than 60,000 diabetics have a limb amputated because of nerve damage.
There is hope, though. More research is showing that a vegan diet – rather than the traditional low-carbohydrate diet recommended by most American specialists – may be a better way to manage diabetes, and, in some cases, even reverse it. And while the jury is out on treatment, medical authorities agree that America’s “meaty, cheesy, sugary” diet is leading to both obesity and an all-out epidemic of Type II Diabetes, Studies suggest that America’s diet—high in fatty animal products—can even make the body be more insulin resistant.
The New 4 Food Groups
To fight the onset of Type 2 Diabetes—and in many cases even reverse it—a vegetarian diet high in vegetables and fiber has proven effective. Even better: eliminating animal-based products entirely. Cutting everything from pork and fish to milk and cheese eliminates both animal fat and animal protein, which has been shown to accelerate kidney damage in people who have already lost some kidney function.
A highly encouraging study compared a low-fat, vegan diet with the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. The result? People eating a vegan diet reduced their diabetes medication by 43 percent, compared to 26 percent on the ADA diet, while also losing more weight!
For anyone considering the switch to a vegan diet, it helps to think in terms of “The Four New Food Groups”: Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes and Whole Grains.
They may taste sweet, but most whole fruits are compatible with a Type 2-diabetic diet; oranges, bananas, blueberries, strawberries are recommended. Fruits to avoid include watermelon and cantaloupe. Not surprisingly, the list of “good” vegetables is almost limitless. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, kale, collards, squash, green beans, bok choy, and artichokes are all on the approved menu.
“Legume” is just a fancy word for beans and a vegan/diabetes-friendly diet can include peas, split peas, lentils, and fat-free soy products, as well as black, pinto, or kidney beans, chickpeas and baked beans. Brown rice, bran cereal, oatmeal, pumpernickel or rye bread, couscous, bulgur wheat, millet, and barley are just a few of the recommended whole-grain options available in most supermarkets or health food stores.
Fountain of youth
Prevent Aging with a Vegan Diet
Stop dreading birthdays and turn back the clock with a plant based diet! Now you can be the one who is actually PROUD to announce your age, as you watch jaws drop because of your youthfulness!
While this is just an opinion, it certainly does appear that a plant based diet will cause one to age a lot better than someone who consumes a lot of animal products. As PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50 Mimi Kirk proves, 70 really can be the new 20. Here’s how to maximize the anti-aging benefits inherent in vegan foods.
Wrinkles: they’re everyone’s worst nightmare when it comes to aging. And bad Botox results are everyone’s second worst nightmare. (Not to mention that every single Botox treatment must be
cruelly tested on an innocent animal before it goes into your skin, causing great suffering for the animal.) So forget the Botox or other cosmetic treatments – and forget the expensive creams that are loaded with chemicals. Instead, start with what you put into your body; try something that works from within. Vitamin C supports the synthesis of collagen, the structural protein in our tissues that makes up 75 to 80 percent of skin, and collagen breakdown is responsible for the wrinkles that seem inevitable. With vitamin C abundant in countless plant foods from cabbage and potatoes to citrus and pomegranate, some hypothesize that diets packing seven to nine servings per day of fresh produce may help skin retain its elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles!!
Other antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals, which are unstable particles produced in the body that can damage cells and lead to a whole host of health problems. Without antioxidants, these harmful particles accumulate over time. The solution? A plant based, colorful diet! Blueberries’ rich hue reveals they
are full of flavonoids that fight free radicals. Bright orange carrots and sweet potatoes have high levels of beta-carotene, which is known to promote healthy skin, eyes, and cardio health. Ruby red tomatoes have lots of lycopene, a compound that protects the arteries. All of these wonderful benefits combined equal one thing – youthfulness!
Got Calcium? Bone loss becomes a major concern as the years progress. So many people turn to dairy products, thinking that this is the answer. Think again – it’s not! In fact, some studies have shown that the high animal protein content of dairy milk actually negates any benefit from the calcium. In fact, in third world countries where women consume little to no dairy products, osteoporosis barely exists!! So when you want calcium, think plant products. For example, kale has more calcium per gram than cow’s milk. And don’t forget to up your vitamin D intake to help calcium absorption—15 minutes per day of sun exposure should be sufficient.
Maintaining a youthful figure is harder at 60 than it is at 16 because metabolism slows down with age. So pick foods that are full of nutrients but light on calories. Almost all fruits and vegetables fall into this category. Another way to stave off the pounds is to increase your fiber intake because it keeps you fuller for longer. Luckily, fiber is available everywhere in plant products such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. Try to incorporate beans into your meals for some soluble fiber that promotes digestive health – and beans also have a good amount of high-quality plant-based protein!
Most people think you should avoid fats if you want to stay healthy. Not exactly – what you need to avoid are animal products fats. Fats derived from animal sources can speed up aging and add to health problems, but plant-based fats are actually good for you and offer many benefits. Walnuts are loaded with alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that keeps your heart and brain functioning optimally. Avocados contain oleic acid, which works to improve cholesterol levels. This good-fat-filled fruit also has potassium and folate, which lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. (Not to mention my theory – that avocados moisturize your skin from the inside out.)
While genetics do play an important role, when it comes to aging, you can’t deny that what you put into your body has substantial effects. You literally are what you eat.
[We would like to thank Veg News Magazine for contributing to this content.]
For more information and interesting articles, click here!
For more information on Mimi Kirk, click here!
For more information on the myths of dairy, click here!
Personally, it’s my opinion that my plant-based diet is fully responsible for my graceful aging. I’ve never had any cosmetic work done and pretty much look the same as I did 20 years ago. I attribute it all to not only a vegan diet but also a vegan lifestyle, meaning I do not wear any animal products and do not buy or use products that were tested on animals or contain animal products. Remember, by adhering to a vegan lifestyle, not only do you avoid putting the toxicity directly into your body through food, but you also avoid the super bad karma involved with eating, wearing, or using products that are a result of utter torture and abuse. That energy certainly CAN’T be good for you, or the aging process.
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