Oats – for health and weight loss

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My Oat Obsession

When I was young I ate so much oats and oatmeal porridge that my older brothers nicknamed me ‘Hoss’ (partially as a nod to the famous character on the 1950s-60s TV show ‘Bonanza’ – RIP Dan Blocker!). I was known to regularly fill up a small saucepan (read “chaff-bag”!) with thick oat porridge, sprinkle it liberally with brown sugar, splash on some milk and sit down for my favourite feast.

Over the years I haven’t quite kept up the same oat consumption, but I still enjoy the delights of oatmeal porridge, muesli, and even a sprinkling of rolled oats over my breakfast cereal.

It turns out that my oat obsession wasn’t such a bad thing health-wise either. When I was recently diagnosed with high cholesterol, one of the foods I researched that was recommended to help reduce high cholesterol levels was, you guessed it, oats.

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Health benefits of oats – a whole grain superfood

Did you know that oats are a great source of phosphorus, selenium and manganese? They’re a good source of soluble dietary fibre, iron, zinc and magnesium, and vitamin B1. Oats are also rich in carotenoids, tocols (Vitamin E), flavonoids and avenanthramides – a class of polyphenols.

Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fibre known as beta-glucan, which has been shown in many studies to reduce blood cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. The intake of the equivalent of three grams of oat fibre (in one bowl of oatmeal) daily generally reduces total cholesterol by 8 to 23 percent.

According to an article from The George Mateljan Foundation, recent research suggests that oats may have another cardio-protective mechanism.

A study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition found that an antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides helps prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol.

Another study also conducted at Tufts and published in Atherosclerosis, researchers exposed human arterial wall cells to purified avenenthramides or oat phenols from oats for 24 hours, which significantly suppressed the production of several types of molecules involved in the attachment of monocytes (immune cells in the bloodstream) to the arterial wall—the first step in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

We know that consumption of dietary fibre and whole grain products such as oats can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack. Harvard researchers looked at the effects of cereal consumption on heart failure risk by following 21,376 participants in the Physicians Health Study over a period of 19.6 years. After adjusting for other factors (age, smoking, alcohol consumption, vegetable consumption, use of vitamins, exercise, and history of heart disease), the researchers discovered that men who enjoyed a daily morning bowl of whole grain (but not refined) cereal had a 29% lower risk of heart failure.

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Other oat health benefits

  • Management of diabetes. Oat’s beta-glucan has beneficial effects for diabetics. Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in this type of oat fibre or given oatmeal or oat bran rich foods experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread. Researchers in Mannheim, Germany carried out a dietary intervention with 14 patients who had uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. The patients were introduced to a diabetes-appropriate diet containing oatmeal during a short hospital stay, then examined again four weeks later. On average, patients achieved a 40% reduction in insulin dosage – and maintained the reduction even after 4 weeks on their own at home.
  • Protection against breast cancer. When researchers looked at how much fiber 35,972 participants in the UK Women’s Cohort Study ate, they found a diet rich in fibre from whole grains, such as oats, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. (Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology).
  • Immune system booster. In laboratory studies reported inSurgery, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system’s response to bacterial infection.
  • Lowering risk of colorectal cancer. Researchers in Britain and the Netherlands pooled published evidence that covered nearly 2 million people to evaluate whether a high fibre diet (mainly from whole grains and cereals like oats) is linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer, and found that for every additional 10g of fiber in someone’s diet there is a 10% reduction in their risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Management of blood pressure. An article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that a diet which includes plenty of whole-grains (such as oats or wholemeal bread) is just as effective as taking anti-hypertensive medication in lowering blood pressure.
  • Protection against hormone-dependent cancer. A phytochemical especially abundant in whole grains including oats are plant lignans, which are thought to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart disease.

Several studies suggest that eating whole grains such as oats has been linked to protection against atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature death. A new study and accompanying editorial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains the likely reasons behind these findings and recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains should be eaten daily. So much for the Paleo proponents’ claim that whole grains aren’t any good for you!

Oats for weight loss and appetite control

Studies have revealed that starting the day with a nutritious, fibre-rich meal such as oats can help with maintaining a healthy weight. A cup of oatmeal is only 130 calories. It stays in your stomach longer, making you feel full longer, with less hunger and cravings.

Australian researchers studied fourteen people who ate a control meal and three different cereals with different levels of oat beta glucan. They then collected blood samples for four hours after each meal, and found a significant dose response between higher levels of oat beta glucan and higher levels of Peptide Y-Y, a hormone associated with appetite control.

Also in Australia, researchers at the University of Sydney fed 38 different foods, one by one, to 11-13 different people, then asked them to report their “satiety” or fullness every 15 minutes for the next two hours. From this, they ranked all 38 foods in a “Satiety Index.” Oatmeal rated #3 overall for making people feel satisfied and full, and it rated #1 in the breakfast food group.

Information Sources:

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Cooking and eating oats

The distinctive flavour associated with oats is partly due to the roasting process they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. Oats are then hulled, though this process does not strip away their bran or their germ, which allows them to retain a concentrated source of their fibre and nutrients.

Versatile oats can be eaten raw or cooked as porridge; made into oat flour; oat bran (the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull); added to baked goods (oat cookies, oat cakes), and even consumed as oat milk.

Tom’s Quick and Easy Oatmeal

I have a favourite, very quick and easy way to cook low-fat healthy oatmeal porridge:

Ingredients:

  • Half-cup of rolled oats
  • One cup of water

Method:

  • Add ingredients to a microwave bowl with lid.
  • Microwave (or alternatively cook in saucepan) for 2 minutes.
  • Stir ingredients well, then serve.

Depending on taste, you can then add fresh fruit such as banana, berries, or dried fruit for texture and natural sweetener. I also add some ground flax seed for omega 3 fats, and soy-milk (I drink fat-free), although you can add the milk of your choice (oat milk is also recommended).

How do you like your oats? Maybe you enjoy other oaty treats like our Anzac biscuitOat Bread, or our Steel Cut Oat Power Porridge.

Let us know in the comments.

Tom Perry

 

Cowspiracy – the secret impact of our food choices will shock you!

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A while ago I attended the first screening of the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

Cowspiracy is a shocking yet humorous documentary following the journey of a young environmentalist, Kip Anderson, as he seeks to find the real solution to environmental issues we face today. Kip ends up uncovering the most destructive industry facing the planet, and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.

In the face of the confronting data Kip went looking for answers from all the major environment agencies. He found none.

Nobody wanted to speak up, and Kip’s funding for the movie was cut as no agencies were willing to support him once they knew where he was heading.

In Cowspiracy we see industries and government agencies advocating a variety of recommendations for reducing our environmental impact; including using ethanol-mixed petrol, driving less, reusing and recycling, or even paying for ‘greener’ air travel, among other initiatives. But how come no one tells us we can achieve the same end, if not to a greater extent, by eating less animal products?

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I need to be honest here. I’m not an environmentalist. I don’t carry reusable coffee cups, I don’t use my green bags every time I do grocery shopping, and you won’t see me wearing second hand clothes anytime soon.

The hard truth is that I’m as motivated to do something about the environment as much as I am about cleaning the house. Meaning: if I could get away without doing anything, I’d be glad.

I won’t do anything more than necessary to keep the house clean and I certainly would have someone else do the cleaning if I could. But that’s not to say I don’t care about the environment. As much as I hate vacuuming, I do it regularly to keep the house clean. Likewise, as much as I hate sorting my rubbish or paying more for environmental-friendly items, I do it as well because I need to, I have to. The planet Earth is my home, and I want to look after it as much as it has been looking after me all this time. After all, it’s your home, too!

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Information is a powerful thing. Knowledge is indeed power. Once you’ve learned something, you can’t unlearn it. And here are some of the many things I’ve learned about the environmental impact of food we eat through watching the movie Cowspiracy:

  • 30% of our dry land is being used for livestock production
  • Animal agriculture accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation
  • Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2 emission limit by 2030, all from raising animals for food
  • You need 4500 litres of water to produce a single 220g steak

When it comes to our surroundings, our meat, dairy and egg consumption has more of a negative impact upon the environment compared to any other earth-destroying activities that we do, including the burning of fossil fuels, landfill and our non-degradable synthetic materials like plastic.

How much water do you think is need to make enough beef for a humble beef-burger? How about enough water for a week long shower! 

One beef burger = 7 days of shower. That’s insane!

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If by eating less meat you could help reverse the damage the agriculture industry causes to the environment, would you do it?

If by swapping your eggs for beans and toast on your breakfast plate you could help arrest the destruction of our planet, would you do it?

If the simple act of changing your eating habits, no matter how small, could have a profound impact upon the environment, much more than any reduction in fossil fuels might accomplish, would you give it a try?

This movie will make you ask yourself those questions. It will open your eyes to some crazy facts that no one is telling you.

Don’t take my word for it, just like you shouldn’t take anyone’s word for anything. Watch the movie, do your own research and be an informed citizen. I promise the truth will shock and challenge you.

PS: Cowspiracy is now available on Netflix, thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio who, aside from being an awesome actor, is also a passionate environmental activist. If the movie is good enough for Leo to promote it to Netflix, I think it would be good enough for you to check out!

Watch it and let me know what you think!

3 Reasons Why You Should Eat Flaxseeds

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Flaxseeds – a nutritional powerhouse

What are flaxseeds?

Flaxseeds, otherwise known as linseeds, are tiny seeds that were cultivated as early as 3000 BC in Babylon. They are found in many processed foods, from crackers to frozen waffles. The American Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone.

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Why is flaxseed good for you?

A WebMD article by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD lists the health benefits of this little seed that packs a huge punch in the healthy food stakes.

The myriad health benefits of flaxseed can be attributed to three main factors:

  1. Flaxseeds are one of the best plant-based sources of essential omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds contain 50 to 60 per cent omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha linolenic acid (ALA). A tablespoon of flaxseeds contains about 1.8 grams of omega-3.
  2. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Lignans are phytoestrogens which researchers have found helpful in preventing heart disease, protecting against inflammatory disorders and certain cancers, and lowering your cholesterol.
  3. Flaxseeds are also rich in B vitamins, dietary fibre, protein and potassium.

Golden vs Brown Flaxseed

There are two types of flax seeds, golden and brown coloured flaxseeds. Brown flax seeds is usually easier to find than golden flax seeds. Some argue that golden flax seeds are superior than brown but according to a recent study done by Canada Grain Commission, evidence points to nutritional equality of brown and golden flax seeds

Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells. Studies indicate that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, as well as other cancers such as prostate cancer, and colon cancer.

Plant-derived omega-3 fats may help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat. New research also suggests significant blood pressure-lowering effects of flaxseed.

“Lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque build-up by up to 75%,” says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.

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Eating flaxseed daily may also help manage your cholesterol levels. The level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Findings published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that the seeds (not flaxseed oil) can reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol by a significant amount, particularly in post-menopausal women. A study published in the Journal Of Clinical Oncology found that ground flaxseed slow the growth of prostate cancer tumours.

How should you use flaxseed in your diet?

  • Add flaxseed (ground or whole) on cereal, added to homemade bread, mixed into soups and stews, or blended into smoothies.
  • Make flaxseeds gel by combining ground flaxseed with water, and use it to thicken soups or dessert.
  • Make flax-egg by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water and used it as an egg replacement in baked goods.

Do you have flaxseed in your diet, and if so, how do you consume it?

Tom Perry

Further Reading and References:

How To Make a Vegan Omelette

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One of the things I love about plantbased cooking is how creative it is. I mean, who would have thought you can make omelette without egg? As the saying goes, creativity often stems from scarcity. I think it’s true. Take away meat, egg, butter and cheese, and most cooks (and chefs) would be scratching their head when it comes to cooking. Hence the perception that plantbased food is boring and plain. This recipe breaks all the conventional cooking rules and it’s tasty, egg-y, healthy and of course, 100% vegan.

Why I love it:

Though it doesn’t taste exactly like egg omelette, the texture is very close and the complexity of flavour is on point. The addition of kala namak or black salt gives it an egg-y punch. The high sulphur content of kala namak gives it the distinct smell and taste of egg. Who would have thought that salt can taste and smell like egg! Such is the wonder of Mother Nature. You can get kala namak at most health food stores.

It’s low in fat, and contains zero cholesterol. Chickpeas are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, folate, and magnesium. It’s also a good source of iron and the immune-boosting zinc and copper.

How to make vegan omelette

Tips for making the perfect vegan omelette:

  1. Cook the batter thoroughly. You don’t want runny, uncooked batter. Use a pan with a lid (aluminium foil works too if you have no lid) so you can cook the batter thoroughly.
  2. Use kala namak and nutritional yeast to get that ‘eggy’ taste
  3. Add red onion and non-dairy cheese for savoury, cheesy flavour
  4. Fill with mushroom and spinach to make a big breakfast omelette
  5. Do not overfill as it will make the batter too runny and you’ll end up with scrambled egg instead of omelette. May not be a bad thing.
  6. Serve with some avocado for added creaminess, and some Kinda Bacon for crunch and bacon-y boost.

Omelette anyone?

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Vegan Omelette
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Keren Natalia
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chickpeas, flour
  • 1 cup non dairy milk
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp kala namak (black salt)
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp of you favourite filling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Prepare Cuisine Companion (CC) bowl with mixing blade.
  2. Add all ingredients into CC bowl and mix at speed 10 for 60 seconds until mixed through. Scraping the sides of the bowl if required.
  3. Heat a non stick pan, on low heat
  4. Pour ¼ cup batter, cook for 2 minutes and then close the lid and cook for another minute
  5. Add your filling if using
  6. Fold and cook for another 2 minutes until it’s cooked
  7. Sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper and kala namak and serve with some tomato sauce
Notes
I use my trusted Cuisine Companion for this recipe as I often make them double or triple the batch size. If you don’t have a Cuisine Companion, get one :D, or you can blend all the ingredients in a blender.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram. I’d love to see it.

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Paleo vs Plantbased

Paleo vs. Plantbased

Where did Paleo come from?

I loved watching ‘The Flintstones’ when I was a kid (showing my age, I know!). This cartoon, set in the stone-age, was a pioneering sitcom reflecting 1960’s suburban life in America, and poked fun at the vain, lazy, and self-absorbed Fred Flintstone; long before Homer Simpson existed.

But did I believe that ancient humans actually lived like that? Of course not!

It’s a natural human tendency to idealise or romanticise the past, especially when it’s so far back in the mists of time.

The ‘Paleo’ diet is a food fantasy cleverly marketed as dietary ‘cure-all’ harking back to a mythical stone-age past. It’s been around for quite a while, too, in some form or another.

In his 1975 book ‘The Stone Age Diet: Based on in-depth Studies of Human Ecology and the Diet of Man’ Walter L. Voegtlin argued that that the ancestral human Paleolithic diet was that of a carnivore — chiefly (animal) fats and protein, with only small amounts of carbohydrates.

In 1988 S. Boyd Eaton, Marjorie Shostak and Melvin Konner published a book about Paleolithic nutrition. From the end of the 1990s, some medical doctors and nutritionists promoted a return to a so-called Paleolithic (pre-agricultural) diet.

In 2002, Dr Lauren Cordain, who holds a doctorate in physical education, published his bestselling book “The Paleo Diet” that summarized research on the subject and provided practical advice on “the diet you were designed to eat”.

So, was Fred Flintstone and his buddies really hairy-chested hunters of woolly mammoths? While it’s true that Fred worked at the Slate Rock & Gravel Company in the town of Bedrock, the short answer is ‘no’.

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The Problem with Paleo

The Paleolithic period is the earliest period of human development, and lasted from 2.6 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago, across many continents, and during a wide range of climatic conditions (including a few ice ages). Apart from the huge variations in time, location and climate, there are several other anomalies with Paleo that were detailed in a Scientific American article:

  • Put simply, true Paleo foods are not around anymore, and certainly not in your local supermarket. Almost every species commonly consumed today—whether a fruit, vegetable or animal—is vastly different from its Paleolithic predecessor. Animals and plants used for consumption have been genetically bred and modified to increase production and favour preferred features (such as bananas without seeds) to such an extent that it is now impossible to eat like a human from the Paleolithic period – short of taking a historical ride in a time machine!
  • Contrary to Paleo proponents’ claims, Paleolithic humans did eat grains and legumes, and may have even cooked them. Recent research out of Italy shows that humans were eating grains well before modern agriculture. Marta Mariotti Lippi and her colleagues at the University of Florence found traces of oats on an ancient grinding tool in Southern Italy dating 32,000 years ago, about 20,000 years before farming was developed. Lippi says this isn’t the only instance of evidence pointing to ancient people eating starch. “In Central Italy they ate starch from cattail,” Lippi said. “In the Middle East, starch from wild wheat. In Russia and Moravia, they were eating starch, but we do not know which plants they processed.” And don’t forget, legumes and whole grains are excellent sources of fibre, protein, and other phyto-nutrients that form part of a healthy diet.
  • Humans have evolved since 12,000 years ago, in contrast to Paleo lore, which teaches that our eating preferences are stuck in the stone-age. Genetic mutations, such as a tolerance for dairy in some populations, blue eyes, some people evolving extra copies of the amylase enzyme so they can more easily digest starches, have all occurred with the last 5,000 to 10,000 years. It is clear our bodies are easily capable of evolving fast enough in 12,000 years to accommodate new foods.
  • Paleo diets can induce weight loss, but in an unhealthy way. Too much animal fat and animal protein can lead to a host of health problems. It is also ethically problematic. According to vegan dietitian Amanda Benham;

“Any diet [such as Paleo] that requires animals to be slaughtered, exploited or kept in captivity has something seriously wrong with it from an ethical viewpoint. Also I don’t recommend them on health grounds. They encourage unhealthy eating patterns such as high consumption of animal products (such as meat and eggs), which are loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol and devoid of fibre and other beneficial plant components. In the long run they unsustainable and any weight lost is readily regained.

“Another problem with diets high in animal products is that they have a much larger environmental footprint than plant-based diets. Producing food from animals requires a much greater use of resources such as land, water and fossil fuels than producing food from plants. It is also a waste of food itself to get our calories and protein from animal products, as many more times the amount of protein and calories from plants must be fed to animals than is actually produced. Also, raising cattle and other ruminants for meat and/or milk production is a major contributor to global warming via methane gas production.”

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Our true Paleo history

In a Scientific American article Rob Dunn, science writer and biologist in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University, argues that when taken too literally such diets are ridiculous.

One problem is deciding which group of ancestors to take our dietary advice from. Are the stone-age diet gurus Neanderthals, Homo Erectus or the Flintstone Family (Brontosaurus ribs anyone)? If we look at our closest ape relatives, chimpanzees, the answer to our dietary past is clear – it was mostly vegetarian. Chimpanzees do sometimes kill and devour a smaller animal like a monkey. However the proportion of the diet of the average chimpanzee composed of meat is small, less than 3% by mass. As Rob Dunn notes:

“The majority of the food consumed by primates today–and every indication is for the last thirty million years–is vegetable, not animal. Plants are what our apey and even earlier ancestors ate; they were our paleo diet for most of the last thirty million years during which our bodies, and our guts in particular, were evolving.”

So, to return a healthy, halcyon ancient diet regime Rob Dunn has more advice:

“If you want to return to your ancestral diet, … you might reasonably eat what our ancestors spent the most time eating during the largest periods of the evolution of our guts, fruits, nuts, and vegetables—especially fungus-covered tropical leaves.”

Hmmm – perhaps we’ll leave the fungus-covered leaves out of our green salad for now…

Rather than dwell too much on what our ancient ancestors ate, the key question is, what is the healthiest option right now, today? Whether you eat meat or meat alternatives, it is clear from mainstream nutrition advice that most of our diet should consist of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and complex carbohydrates (whole grains).

References:

http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/healthy-living-pyramid

http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_diet.htm#tip4

https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/foodpyramid.aspx

Tom Perry

How Food Should Make You Feel

Introduction: This is a guest post written by Nat (a.k.a Buzz), Keren’s significant other and a self-professed non-foodie who got dragged into the plantbased lifestyle a couple years ago. Though he’s not a vegan, he now eats mainly plantbased and loves sharing his experience on eating plantbased foods.

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How Food Should Make You Feel

I’m not particularly interested in food per se. I don’t take photographs of everything I eat. I abhor trying new dishes and am perfectly happy to eat the same dish of the plainest ingredients imaginable three times every single day, and yet I still need food, just like you and everybody else. Whether you view food as a religion to be celebrated or as a mundane chore such as filling up the car with petrol or as a precursor to getting lucky on a date, we all still need to eat, and the stomachs of the dainty connoisseur and the Neanderthal rumble equally as loudly when we go without.

While I don’t profess to have any special knowledge of the flavours, nutritional value or health benefits of the food I eat, I do know how it makes me feel. I’m not talking about whether I feel enlightened, virtuous for sparing the lives of our furry friends or any such abstract notions. I’m talking about how the food feels when at rest in my stomach. And just because it might look or smell delicious prior to consumption or taste nice when gobbling it down doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel good afterwards. We all know the feeling of having had something excessively sweet, salty or fried which, no matter how appetising or tasty it was in the first place, leaves you feeling a little bit sick or bloated after you have it.

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Food, as far as I’m concerned, should make you feel good before, during and after consumption. When I have a pizza, for example, it certainly makes my mouth water when I’m waiting for it to be ready, it smells nice when I lift it to my mouth, it tastes delicious when I’m eating it, but after I have it, when the meal ends, how do I feel? I feel thick, bloated and anything but full of energy and gusto and it takes me hours to get back to normal. That can hardly be the rightful purpose of food. What good was the meal if it doesn’t leave you feeling better after than before you sat down to begin eating? I don’t think anyone feels as ready and capable after a pizza than before.

In contrast, when I have a big plate of steamed vegetables, a couple of tomatoes, a piece of kiwi fruit and a few other green-themed odds and ends, no matter how much I have to eat (and it’s really hard to consume ‘too much’ of those ingredients), no matter the circumstances, I always feel refreshed, I feel strong and healthy and I’m ready to get going and do something useful straight afterwards. I don’t think I’ve ever pushed away from the table after a vegetable-themed orgy and complained that I’ve had too much to eat or that I’m not feeling at my best. It’s only when there’s a foreign invader among the array of vegetables, such as a pizza, a sausage roll or a sugary cake, that my stomach gets tripped up and malfunctions

I won’t delve into specifics such as nutritional content, counting calories, grams of protein or simple and complex sugars. That’s for others more knowledgeable than me to canvass. The real litmus test for food ignoramuses such as myself is simple: how does it feel after you eat it? If it doesn’t feel good, then it’s not good for you, period. It doesn’t matter what it is, really, because the point of food, the whole purpose, should be to refuel and recharge you, not make you feel fat, bloated or sleepy. So ask yourself when you eat so-and-so, “how does it make me feel?” and use that as a starting point.

Home Cooked Meals

I love beef burgers, but they make me feel fat and tired. I’d push my mother over in the race for a tasty Hawaiian pizza, but afterwards I won’t be in any condition to push anyone around. Milkshakes are Heaven’s gift but the last time I had one I fell asleep at ten o’clock in the morning. I can go on and on, but I’m sure you all can use your own experiences to fill in the gaps.

So what foods make me feel good? What recharges me and leaves me in fighting shape and what renders me hors d’ combat?

The short answer is that anything green or plant-based sits very comfortably in my stomach after consumption. My girlfriend suffers from an incurable condition which compels her to fill herself, and myself, with the greenest gunk imaginable. And you know what? Regardless of how it looks before and tastes during (and it does taste very nice), it feels good afterwards. It feels better than anything else I have to eat. Oftentimes when I have a big plate of vegetables and assorted odds and ends (certainly as large a plate as a plate containing a burger and fries), even when I’ve had more than enough to eat, my stomach’s still got a slight rumble which I interpret as the sign of a beast temporarily satisfied but not in a food-induced coma. And I think that’s how food should make you feel. It should fill you up but not stuff you silly. It should refresh you but not wear you down. It should look good, taste good and feel good afterwards.

If your priority is performance, as mine is, if you couldn’t care less about how a dish looks on Instagram, if you just want to get something which tastes nice and leaves you feeling strong, heathy and capable, afterwards, then be honest with yourself about which dishes achieve the desired effect.

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The more greens I get, the better I feel. Red meat doesn’t work for me anymore. Bread needs to be approached with caution. Sugar and dairy products are fatal to the touch. Some trial and error will lead you to some very simple conclusions. I want to eat well and feel good, and I don’t care what it is I’m eating as long as it meets that criteria. And the conclusion I’ve reached is that the less meat, dairy and sugar I eat, the better I feel. And isn’t that the important thing- how I feel? It doesn’t matter what I’m eating as long as I’m feeling at my best.

Ask yourself what makes you feel your best. Forget about the clichés and stereotypes that you need bucket loads of meat and milk to get your protein. Focus on results. And which foods give you the best results? Focus on those foods, no matter what colour they are.

Vegan Bolognaise With Walnut And Mushroom

Spaghetti bolognaise is one of my favourite childhood comfort foods. It wasn’t something that our family would eat regularly so growing up, it would be a real treat for me whenever we went out to have spaghetti bolognaise!

I also owe my English language skills to this lovely dish. During my teens, I was studying English at an International College which ran classes on weeknights and on the weekend. It has a cafe that served spaghetti bolognaise amongst a list of Western dishes they had on their menu. There were times when I was tired and didn’t feel like going to class but I would go anyway as I didn’t want to miss out of having spaghetti bolognaise for lunch or dinner after class. It was a great motivator to study English!

Though this vegan bolognaise recipe is miles different to what I had then but it’s delicious just the same. It’s meaty, without having any actual meat in the ingredients, fragrant, mildly spicy and very, very comforting.

 

Vegan bolognaise sauce

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Why I love it:

This dish brings me back to my childhood. I love the aroma and the tast of fresh basil cutting through the richness of the sauce. I love the chewiness and the meatiness of the mushrooms and the walnuts.  And I especially love trying to gently slurp the spaghetti strands from the bowl and attempting to make as little mess all over the chair and the floor. It never works but hey, one can try.

It’s meatless but it’s full of flavour and satisfying . It’s simple to make, delicious and satisfying. It’s also healthy and nutritious.

  • Walnuts are rich in omega-3 which is essential for normal brain function. They are also rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is known to help lower “bad” cholesterol and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. A study has also found that walnuts contains melatonin, which helps with sleep regulation, circadian rhythms and light-dark adjustment.
  • Mushrooms are not only a great meat replacement it’s also great for weight management. They’re very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and also are a good source of protein and folate which supports your brain and nervous system. They are also critical for red blood cell production (folate, iron, copper, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6, are necessary for the production of red blood cells) as well as supporting reproductive health in women.

Vegan bolognaise sauce

Vegan Bolognaise With Walnut And Mushroom
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Keren Natalia
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 140 ml tomato paste
  • 4 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 carrots, dice into small squares
  • 350 g Swiss Brown mushroom, sliced
  • 1 ½ cup walnut, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh chilli, chopped
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Process walnut in a food processor or chop using a knife to a rough crumb
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan under medium heat. Fry onion for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  3. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomato, tomato paste, carrot, walnut, water and chilli.
  5. Simmer for 1 hour until the sauce thick and rich
  6. Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  7. Add mushroom and cook for about 2 minutes,
  8. Turn the heat off, add basil leaves and pour over freshly cooked pasta.

Notes and Tips:

  • For low carb alternative, you can replace the pasta with zucchini noodles by slicing the zucchini into thin strips using a knife, a mandolin or a spiraliser. Toss the zucchini in a pan over a medium heat for 1 – 2  minutes to warm it up.
  • Add 1/2 cup of kalamata olives in place of salt
  • Replace 1 cup of water with 1 cup of red wine
  • Add a teaspoon of dried oregano or mixed dried Italian herbs instead of basil

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me so I can see your creation

 

Keren x

 

 

How plant foods help you live longer

What is our biggest killer?

What is the biggest killer in our society? Is it suicide, substance abuse, violent attacks, or car accidents? These issues often receive major media coverage and sympathy, and rightly so. However they don’t kill the most people.

If we look at English-speaking countries like the country I live in, Australia, the largest single cause of death is the same – heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Consider these grim statistics:

Australia (data source: The Australian Heart Foundation):

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Australia, killing one Australian every 12 minutes, and claiming the lives of 45,600 Australians (31% of all deaths)
  • CVD prevents 1.4 million people from living a full life because of disability caused by the disease
  • Lower socio-economic groups, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those living in remote areas had the highest rate of hospitalization and death resulting from CVD in Australia

United States (data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – 1 in every 4 deaths
  • Every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year in health-related costs

United Kingdom (data source: British Heart Foundation):

  • Coronary heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer, causing almost 74,000 deaths each year – that’s about 200 people dying every day.
  • More than a quarter of the deaths from heart disease occur in people who are younger than 75 and experts say the majority are preventable
  • About 1 in 3 adults in England and Scotland have high blood pressure, and nearly half of them are not receiving treatment for this

Heart disease – a global disaster

It is not only affluent English-speaking countries that have high rates of heart disease though. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), heart disease is a global problem. Of the top 10 leading causes of death worldwide, the number 1 is – you guessed it – cardiovascular disease.

Interestingly, when you compare the leading cause of deaths for low income countries to that of middle income, and especially high income countries, heart disease is more prevalent with a higher income . For low-income countries, Ischaemic heart disease (a disease characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart) ranks at number 4, accounting for 6.1% of deaths. By contrast, for high-income countries, Ischaemic heart disease ranks at number 1, accounting for 15.6% of deaths. This implies a relationship between diet and lifestyle of wealthier countries contributing to an increase in heart disease. Which leads us to the key lifestyle factors to help prevent heart disease.

7 Tips To Help Prevent Heart Disease

  1. Smoking – if you haven’t already, quit now!
  2. Body weight – if you’re overweight, stop overeating and start eating healthfully!
  3. Diet – follow a heart-healthy diet (see below)
  4. Use of sodium – reduce your intake, avoid salty foods and condiments
  5. Exercise – start exercising for at least half an hour every day
  6. Alcohol – minimize or quit consumption
  7. Stress control – do something to reduce your stress

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Heart-healthy diet

A heart-healthy diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and trans-fats, low in salt & sugar, and high in fibre-rich whole-grains (such as oats and barley), unsalted nuts (such as almonds and walnuts), legumes, soy products, beans, vegetables and fruit. Use fats sparingly, and include those found in whole foods such as raw seeds, nuts and avocado.

Of the 63% of deaths worldwide due to chronic diseases and conditions in 2008, poor diets were a major contributory factor according to the World Health Organization.

The national or regional rates for main types of diseases such as certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes type 2, are considerably lower where plant-based diets are more common, compared to areas where animal-based diets are more prevalent.

Why plant-based diets are good at preventing disease

Mounting medical evidence shows that a plant-based diet supports longevity and good health. A balanced, varied whole-food plant-based diet protects health because:

  • It’s high in fibre.
  • It provides adequate protein for growth and repair.
  • It’s high in antioxidants that are critical to neutralizing free radicals that cause aging and chronic disease, including cancer.
  • It’s high in vitamins and minerals.
  • It’s low insaturated fat that promotes heart disease.

Plant foods have a much lower concentration of calories than animal protein overall, which allows for more food volume without excessive weight gain.

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Medical studies show the power of plant food

Numerous studies over the last few decades have shown that people whose diets include a large intake of plant foods tend to have a lower risk of chronic disease. The reasons are many.

  • Plant-based foods are naturally rich in antioxidants, which help eliminate free radicals that damage cells and cause chronic inflammation.
  • Some people have genetic predisposition towards disease, such as chromosome 9p21, which has been identified as a major predictor of heart disease.  Scientists from McMaster and McGill universities, both in Canada, have found that while people with this gene variant naturally have a higher risk of heart diseases; this risk is significantly reduced if they eat lots of raw vegetable and fruits.
  • Plant based diets can also protect against the formation of blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors (angiogenesis). The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), published a report in February 2011 explaining how many cancers can be delayed or even prevented through a balance of regular physical activity and a plant-based diet.
  • Dean Ornish’s research showed that eating a very low-fat, plant-based, vegetarian diet and other lifestyle changes could, in fact, reverse heart disease. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn also succeeded in arresting and reversing heart disease in patients who were seriously ill.
  • The Adventist Health Study-2 found that vegetarians had a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Eating red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) is associated with increased rates of cancer and heart disease.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends eating a healthy diet for the prevention of cancer “with an emphasis on plant foods.”
  • There is compelling new research indicating that eating meat causes the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract to produce a compound that may increase the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

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Study shows vegetarians live longer

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that people who follow a vegetarian diet can enjoy an almost 12 per cent lower mortality rate than their meat loving counterparts.

Dr. Michael Orlich of the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, the lead author of the study report, noted that vegetarian diets have clear beneficial effects in the prevention of chronic diseases and the improvement of longevity in humans.

More than 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventist participants were interviewed by researchers in this study. Those who identified as vegetarians were categorized included vegans (eating nothing but plant foods), lacto-ovo vegetarians (eating plant-foods as well as dairy products and eggs), and semi-vegetarians (eating mostly plant-foods but also some animal products like fish and poultry).

Over a six-year period researchers followed the study group to determine differences in mortality. They found that over a one year period five to six per 1,000 vegetarians had died compared to seven per 1,000 meat eaters. Importantly, this study yet again confirms that people who eat mostly plant-based foods are less likely to develop chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer.

“Vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality and with some reductions in cause-specific mortality,” the authors concluded.

According to an article published in the Melbourne ‘Age’, nutritionist and health author Dr Rebecca Harwin says that the consumption of meat increases inflammation in the body and is the cause behind many of our modern day diseases.

“The chance of falling victim to one of our major killers such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes can be increased for meat eaters due to their exposure to hormonal disrupting toxins and potentially harmful bacteria,” she says. “Increased consumption of processed meats and fatty red meat can largely be to blame.”

On the flip side, the Age article continues, a vegetarian diet consisting of a variety of fruit and vegetables boosts valuable antioxidant levels; which assist in combating inflammation. Add to this a higher intake of complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre and other vitamins and minerals and it is easy to understand the results from this study.

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Prevent cancer with diet

As Dr Joel Fuhrman advises, a hormone called IGF-1, (insulin-like growth factor 1) promotes the ageing process, and the growth, proliferation and spread of cancer cells. Elevated IGF-1 levels are linked to increased risk of several cancers. On the positive side, reduced IGF-1 in adulthood is associated with reduced oxidative stress, decreased inflammation, enhanced insulin sensitivity and longer lifespan.4

As Dr Fuhrman says:

“Since the primary dietary factor that determines IGF-1 levels is animal protein, the excessive meat, fowl, seafood, and dairy intake common in our society elevates circulating IGF-1. Refined carbohydrates, like white flour, white rice, and sugars can also raise IGF-1 levels, because they cause rapid increases in insulin levels, leading to increases in IGF-1 signalling.”

So what is a healthy diet to help prevent cancer? Well, it’s no surprise to me that it includes the following recommendations:

  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, soy, legumes, whole grains, beans
  • Maintain a healthy weight and lose excess fat if overweight
  • Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes per day
  • Reduce consumption of red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  • Avoid or minimize alcohol consumption
  • Limit consumption of salt and salty foods
  • Avoid sugary drinks – drink water instead
  • Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer

Source: World Cancer Research Fund

Sound familiar? A healthy, varied plant-based diet, in conjunction with other positive lifestyle practices, is best to protect against both cancer and heart disease.

NOTE: *Please see your doctor for advice or treatment for cancer or any other illness.

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Nuts, vegetable protein and vegetable fat all help to lower cancer risk

I knew that there was a reason my 3 daughters (and son) love peanut butter and jam (jelly if you’re American) on toast!

A study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in September 2013 shows that girls who ate peanut butter or nuts regularly from the ages of 9 to 15 were less likely to develop benign or non-cancerous breast disease by the time they were 30 years old.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine and the Harvard Medical School followed over 9,000 American girls through their pre-teen and teen years to see if any had been diagnosed with benign breast disease (BBD); a risk factor for breast cancer. The researchers found that girls who ate peanut butter twice a week were 39 percent less likely to be diagnosed with BBD.

Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, a professor of oncology at Georgetown University, said that a number of earlier studies on diet and breast cancer risk have determined “that what a girl eats during childhood can have a permanent protective effect on her breast cancer risk later on.”

Researchers investigated whether vegetable protein and fat, derived from diets reported during pre-adolescence and adolescence, are associated with a lower risk for BBD in young women. This study found a lower risk for benign breast disease (BBD) is linked not just to peanut butter, but also to higher intakes of vegetable fat and nuts during high school. The greatest sources of vegetable fat and protein in these girls’ diets were peanut butter, peanuts, nuts, beans, lentils, soybeans, and corn. A daily serving of any one of these was associated with lower risk of contracting breast cancer.

“These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women,” said senior author Graham Colditz, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Eating nuts to lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease

It is no surprise that eating nuts also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. Nuts have lots of protein, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. And many studies have shown that nuts have powerful cholesterol-lowering effects.

According to a statement by the US FDA, “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.”

As long as you don’t have a nut allergy, raw, unsalted seeds, nuts and nut butters (in small quantities, eaten with healthy meals) should form a staple part of your heart-healthy diet.

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6 ways to prevent cancer

Researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently published six dietary guidelines for cancer prevention in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The six dietary recommendations to reduce risk of several types of cancer are:

  1. Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce risk of prostate cancer.

One glass of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 10 percent. Consuming two glasses of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60 percent.

  1. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, skin, and breast.

One drink per week increases risk of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24 percent. Two to three drinks per day increase risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

  1. Avoid red and processed meat to reduce risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

Each 50-gram daily serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage link, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

  1. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

Certain heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing with higher cooking times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can disrupt DNA synthesis.

  1. Consume natural soy products, such as edamame, to reduce risk of breast cancer.

A global study shows women who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day reduce risk for both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer by about 30 percent.

  1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to reduce several forms of cancer.

The fiber and phytochemicals available in fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk—while a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.

Thanks to PCRM for this list.

The point with following a plant-based diet is not just a longer life, but one marked by less obesity, less disease, and more enjoyment of all the things in life that are not just good, but good for you.

Tom Perry

Kale, brown rice and bean salad

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I like 15-minute meals. Some days, 15 minutes is all I have to prepare a meal. Other days, 15 minutes is all I’m willing to spend in the kitchen.

Last weekend was one of those times where, either I’d make something very quickly or we’d go out for lunch. I chose the former. This salad took me 15 minutes to make using kale, brown rice, and beans as the main ingredients. Since I had leftover cooked brown rice I didn’t need to cook the rice.  If you need to cook your rice, add about 30 minutes to your cooking time. You can buy instant pre-cooked brown rice from the supermarket or do what I do, make a large batch of rice in advance and then freeze them. They keep for about 3 months in the freezer and it takes about 2-3 minutes to defrost in the microwave.

Why I love this salad

This kale, brown rice and bean salad not only easy to make, but it is also nutritious, delicious, and satisfying. It’s very ‘hands on’: you start by ‘massaging’ kale with a bit of oil to break down the fibrous structure of kale, making it softer and more palatable (i.e. so it won’t taste like grass). Then you just add the remaining ingredients, toss around for a bit and voila, the meal is served.

Kale is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits, cancer-preventative compounds, cholesterol lowering properties, vitamins and minerals. It’s low in calories (a cup of fresh kale has only about 40 calories) and rich in insoluble fibre which is good for digestion. Beans are an excellent source of antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, and soluble fibres. They help maintain your blood sugar levels, keep you full for longer, and are a great source of plant-based protein. Nutritional medicine not your thing? Just eat this, your body will thank you.

Easy kale, rice, and bean salad

Kale, Brown Rice and Bean Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Keren Natalia
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 can of 4 beans mix, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice
  • 2 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 ripe avocado, flesh removed and diced
  • 3 cups of kale leaves, stem removed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Juice from half lemon
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place shredded kale leave in a large bowl.
  2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and gently massage the kale with your hand (just like kneading bread dough) for about 2 minutes or until the leaves are softened.
  3. Add rice, beans, tomato and avocado into the bowl.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Gently toss to mix.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me so I can see you creation.

Love and greens, 

Keren x 

Review: Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit

Dr Joel Fuhrman is a best-selling author, board-certified physician, plant-based nutrition expert and creator of the Nutritarian way of eating and healthy weight loss. One of his popular products is The Weight Loss Starter Kit, which I have purchased and used myself.

The Weight Loss Starter Kit is a multimedia program. It consists of a suite of books and DVDs:

  1. The End of Dieting book (hardcover, signed by Joel Fuhrman)
  2. Nutritarian Planner & Journal (spiral-bound)
  3. Secrets to Healthy Cooking DVD
  4. Eating Like a Nutritarian DVD
  5. 1 FREE month of GoldPLUS Membership for new members

The program centres around nutrition and healthy eating and offers solutions to people who are:

  1. Trying to lose weight and keep it off
  2. Hoping to get off the endless fad diet money-go-round that never seems to achieve lasting results
  3. Looking for a weight loss solution that not only is sustainable, but will deliver excellent nutrition to help combat high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other common ailments

In this review I will summarise each of the component of Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit based on my own personal experience and break it down to help you understand how the program works.

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Key Principles

Central to Dr Fuhrman’s philosophy, as explained in his other, highly-recommended and best-selling book The End of Dieting, is his simple health equation:

Health = Nutrients / Calories

In other words, your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your calorie intake. This means that you are advised to consume foods that have the highest nutrient value, with the lowest calories available. Essentially, this means natural high-fibre low-calorie whole plant foods.

A key part of Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit is The End of Dieting book. It shows how to break the cycle of endless fad or restrictive diets, and protect yourself with all the dietary and nutritional advice you need. In The End of Dieting Dr Fuhrman catalogues many case studies where people have broken free of their food addictions, dramatically improved chronic health conditions, and lost huge amounts of weight (from 50 to 100kg weight loss) and experienced transformations in their physical and mental health through embracing an exercise routine and a plant-based diet filled with vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

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The End of Dieting also explores a number of topical issues:

  1. The effects of ‘toxic hunger’ and food addictions, caused by eating unhealthy, low nutrient, addictive foods
  2. The Three Habits of Health – eating high-nutrient low-calorie foods, exercise and positive mindset.
  3. Debunking diet myths, including:
    • The Standard American Diet (SAD) which is centered on chicken, red meat, cheese, processed grains and sweets;
    • The Mediterranean Diet, with its over-emphasis on unhealthy olive oil and pasta;
    • The Paleo Diet (and all its high-protein-low-carb predecessors), which, as Dr Fuhrman says, leaves you “dead – like a caveman”;
    • The ‘Wheat Belly’, and various versions of calorie and portion-controlled diets.

Dr Fuhrman urges us to ditch all these diets. He calls for an end to fad diet extremism in all its forms, and instead focuses on health first, by maximizing consumption of crucial micronutrients, and weight second.

Dr Fuhrman’s key message is that in order to have a balanced diet, we should be eating lots of vegetables, especially green vegetables, fruits (including berries), beans, legumes, whole grains, mushrooms, seeds and nuts. His advice is to stop looking for diets and just eat as healthfully as possible.

G-BOMBS

To obtain the best possible concentration of healthy plant foods, Dr Fuhrman employs a simple acronym: G-BOMBS, which stands for:

  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries and
  • Seeds & nuts

Dr Fuhrman promotes G-BOMBS as foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anti-cancer effects, and raw salad vegetables to help you lose and control your weight. He goes deep into all the benefits of whole plant foods to support weight control and protection for chronic disease.

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The Nutritarian Program

The Nutritarian program is designed to help you make a start on a wholefood plant-based diet-style.

According to Dr Fuhrman’s, the Nutritarian diet style “enables you to lose weight and keep it off permanently, without experiencing hunger or depriving yourself of food.”

Not only does counting calories and eating less not work for long-term weight loss, Dr Fuhrman explains, it isn’t supported by advances in nutritional science or clinical evidence. A low-calorie diet that is nutritionally unsound is doomed to fail because it “increases your cravings and hunger signals.”

Included in the book also a healthy eating plan, weekly meal ideas, and recipes.

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Rather than focusing on the foods you can’t eat, Dr Fuhrman inspires you to enjoy the kaleidoscope of plant foods that you can eat in abundance.

Six basic guidelines to Dr Furhman healthy eating plan

The plan in the End of Dieting is boiled down to six basic guidelines for everyday eating;

  1. Eat a large salad as your main dish
  2. Eat half a cup to a full cup of beans
  3. Eat one large serving of lightly steamed green vegetables
  4. Eat at least one ounce of raw nuts and seeds
  5. Eat mushrooms and onions, and
  6. Eat at least three fresh fruits a day

And if you find it too hard to remember, don’t worry – you don’t need to. Dr Fuhrman also provided an online daily checklist to help remind you of these guidelines. And to help you even further we have created a Quick Start Guide based on Dr Fuhrman’s guidelines (refer to the bottom of this post for more info).

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DVD guides

The two DVDs provide a visual demonstration on how you can implement the Nutritarian lifestyle and create delicious healthy meals.

Eating Like a Nutritarian

Recorded at Whole Foods Market (but could be set at any green grocers, organic store, or produce section of your local supermarket) Dr Fuhrman takes you through the high nutrient (plant) food aisles to show you what to buy and how to prepare all the super-foods that your body needs: vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and the right fats and proteins.

Here, Dr Fuhrman also addresses the biggest dietary myths we have been told, ranging from misconceptions about olive oil to the truth about snacking. You’ll learn about the science behind why whole plant foods help you to burn fat and achieve optimum health, and why it’s important to limit, or avoid animal products in your diet.

Secrets to Healthy Cooking

This video features Dr Fuhrman and his wife, Lisa. They take you into their kitchen to demonstrate the techniques and principles behind preparing delicious super-plant-foods. You’ll learn how to prepare delicious high nutrient recipes, as well as Dr Fuhrman favourite recipes and his general formulas for making:

  • Salad Dressings & Dips
  • Soups & Stews
  • Main Dishes
  • Vegetable Smoothies
  • Ice Cream & Sorbets

As an added bonus, a recipe booklet also is included with this DVD to help you get started.

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The Weight Loss Starter Kit also includes an attractive spiral-bound Nutritarian Planner and Journal.

The Nutritarian Planner & Journal encourages you to:

  • Keep track of your progress
  • Commit to your dietary and exercise goals
  • Document your feelings, both the triumphs and the difficulties

A daily journal is a useful tool to help you change your current diet and lifestyle. If you keep a food diary and record your health and weight loss goals, this will assist you to take control over your lifestyle choices.

If you buy the The Weight Loss Starter Kit you can choose this as a ‘stand-alone’ item, or you can elect to sign up (as I have done) for a monthly membership (for new members you’ll receive a free month’s Gold Plus membership). The benefits of being a member of Dr Fuhrman’s online community include:

  • Nutritarian recipes and menus – view, search and print over 1,500 recipes, rated and reviewed by other members
  • Recipe of the Day email – recipe suggestions delivered to you daily via email
  • Healthy Times Newsletters and Position papers – browse a library of previously published newsletters and papers on various topics in nutrition and science
  • The Health Tracker – an easy way to track your progress
  • Webinars and Teleconferences – access to an archive of recorded webinars and teleconferences on a variety of topics in science, nutrition, and health

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The Downside

The downside of Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit is that it requires you to invest significant time and effort in reading, planning, and preparing for transitioning to a healthy plant-based diet. If you’re looking for a ‘quick-fix’ diet, like, say, the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for 5 days and ‘fast’ for 2 days on only 500 calories a day, or a restrictive regime like Paleo diet, where you can’t eat dairy products, grains, or legumes, but eat lots of meat, you will be disappointed with Dr Fuhrman’s Nutritarian eating plan.

Although all the foods Dr Fuhrman promotes are plant-based, it is not strictly speaking a low-fat vegan diet, such as Dr Barnard’s 21-day Vegan Kickstart (which I have also done, bought and read the book, and personally endorse).

As Nutritarian, you don’t have to follow this 100% of the time – if you don’t want to. I eat healthy plant-based foods every day as a vegan, and I advocate this diet for optimal health, for animals, and the environment. If you want to incorporate a small quantity of animal products in your diet, that’s up to you. Obviously, though, the more you follow this diet the more likely you will see positive results. According to Dr Fuhrman, “at least 90% of calories” should come “from unrefined plant foods”.

What I think

By adopting and adapting Dr Fuhrman’s Nutritarian eating and weight loss plan I have experienced some weight loss (about 7-8 kilograms/15 pounds so far), and, most importantly to me, this has helped me to bring my cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure levels down from dangerously high to well-within safe levels.

I have a family history of vascular disease and stroke, and my doctor has diagnosed me with ‘familial hypercholesterolaemia’, which is a fancy term for a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol levels. Despite this, with medication and dietary changes to a healthy low-fat vegan ‘Nutritarian’ style diet, I have defied my genes and gone from a high-risk to low-risk of dying from heart disease. Not only do I feel lighter and fitter, I am less worried about being around to look after my family and kids as I grow older. Is that worth the US$57.91 for The Weight Loss Starter Kit? I say yes, every penny of it.

The Nutritarian diet style requires a lot of time, commitment and immersion into the program. This might put you off, but I can guarantee it’s worth it.

I don’t follow the Nutritarian guidelines 100% of the time, and occasionally I’ll consume a bit of refined or junk food, or even a glass of red wine (or two)! So don’t worry if you think you can’t follow this always: I don’t. I’m not perfect, and that’s fine. I still want you to enjoy life, but I also know that to see permanent improvements to your weight and health, you have to be prepared to make significant changes to your diet and lifestyle. This program provides a clear and comprehensive roadmap to achieving your weight and health goals for (potentially) the rest of your life.

If you really want to lose weight and keep it off, and improve your health at the same time, I highly recommend Dr Fuhrman’s weight loss program. It’s super comprehensive, educational and quite an investment for your future health and longevity.

Little Green Habits Readers’ Special Bonus Pack

We only promote products that we believe to have tremendous value and that we have used ourselves. I personally had a great experience with this program and I believe that it may help you too. To help you further along with your journey to healthy weight loss, when you purchase Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit through our special link (we earn a small commission on any orders made via our affiliate link, but this won’t cost you any extra), you will get a special bonus pack which consists of the following:

1.  Nutritarian Quick Start Guide

If you order Dr Furhman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit via Little Green Habits, you will receive, as an added bonus, a free 25-page Quick Start Guide on how to eat as a Nutritarian – including a shopping list, recipes, meal ideas, and several resource links to nutritional and health benefit information for a huge variety of plant foods.

2. Exclusive email Q&A session

Where you can ask me any questions about how I implemented the Nutritarian lifestyle, lost weight and lowered my cholesterol (I will respond to all emails on this subject for up to 3 months). (*Please note: I am not a medical health care professional and I advise anyone to seek appropriate medical advice before considering changing their diet, medication or exercise).

To get your Weight Loss Starter Kit, as well as your bonus FREE Nutritarian Quick Start Guide just click here and order yours today! Simply email me an electronic copy of your receipt, and I will reply with your Special Bonus Nutritarian Quick Start Guide PDF e-book and we can start planning for your Exclusive email Q&A session.

I hope you find this review useful. If you have any questions or comments about anything I mentioned here, feel free to leave a comment or reach me at: tom@littlegreenhabits.com.

To your health and happiness,

Tom Perry