Low-Carb Diets, Plant Protein, Vegan Tour of India, Superfoods and Breaking up with Cheese

Green Nutrition News – Top 5 Nutrition News Items

This week our top 5 nutrition news items include information from Dr Greger about the reasons why low-carb diets ultimately fail; how to get your protein from plants instead of animals; Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) vegan tour of India; on breaking up with cheese, and Rich Roll’s podcast interview with superfoods and wellness advocate Darin Olien.

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Where Low Carb Diets Fail

Dr Michael Greger, physician, author, nutrition expert and publisher of the Nutrition Facts website, recently appeared on a YouTube channel iHealthTube.com explaining why low-carb diets ultimately fail.

While acknowledging that low-carb diets such as Atkins and Paleo can lead to weight loss in some people, Dr Greger said that any diet can lead to weight loss, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or sustainable. Dr Greger noted that previous advice to reduce fat did lead to some refined carbohydrate junk foods being marketed as ‘low fat’ to cash in on this health advice. It is these types of processed carbs, often filled with sugar and salt, which should be avoided in favour of healthy natural carbs including fruit and vegetables.

When you are severely carb-depleted you go into a state of ‘ketosis’, which is, as Dr Greger puts it, a state of “sickness”. This can depress your appetite and cause weight loss in the short term (as well as unpleasant side effects like bad breath!). These unhealthy diets can never be sustained, however, particularly once a person goes ‘off’ the diet, and resumes more regular eating patterns.

The key, as Dr Greger advises, is to choose the diet with the greatest chance of longevity, with the lowest rates of disease, and which also helps people achieve and maintain a healthy weight; that is, a healthy plant-based diet.

 chickpea-316594_1280How to get your protein from plants, not animals

A recent Post Bulletin article shares information from Sue Lofgren, a registered dietician at Olmsted Medical Center in the US, about protein, what it is, where to find it and a sample menu of how to get over 60 grams of protein on a vegetarian diet.

Sue gives the daily recommended allowance of protein for men and women, and notes that all foods except fruit and fat contain protein. The bottom line is that if you eat a variety of foods each day you will most likely get enough protein.

Soy products (tempeh and tofu), beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, grains, nuts and nut butters, seeds and seed butters and vegetables all contain protein. Plant-based proteins except soybeans and some grains (such as quinoa) are sometimes referred to as “incomplete proteins” because they lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids that make up “complete protein”. In practice this is not a problem as, according to Sue, “eating a variety of protein sources throughout the day will ensure you get all nine essential amino acids”.

If you are thinking of using a protein supplement, like a protein powder, Sue recommends speaking first with your healthcare provider. As Sue advises, a balanced diet from healthy natural foods is the best way to get the nutrients and energy your body needs.


US-based doctor’s group promotes vegan life in India

Recently The Indian Express online reported a story about a tour of India by representatives of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM: a non-profit health organization with 12,000 physicians established in 1985 in the US).

In an email interview with Zeeshan Ali of PCRM is quoted as saying:

“A low-fat vegan diet, combined with a nutrition education program, is clinically proven to boost weight loss, lower blood pressure, improve total cholesterol, restore insulin function, alleviate chronic pain, particularly headaches, migraines, and joint pain. It also boosts your mood and combats chronic fatigue. Plant-based dietary patterns are associated with a reduced risk for certain forms of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

As far as nutrients such as protein or iron are concerned, Mr Ali says:

“A plant-based vegan diet provides an abundance of micronutrients we often fall short on while ensuring adequate intake of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. We recommend 80 percent of calories come from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat and 10 percent from protein.

“Choosing colourful, low-fat, plant-based foods often ensures this ratio, or a comparable one that will leave you feeling great. Especially good protein sources include whole-wheat pasta, ancient grains, beans, peas and lentils, and even leafy greens like spinach and broccoli,” he added.


On breaking up with cheese

Vegan blogger Sara Hohn of Homemade Levity has written about her struggles giving up dairy cheese.

Sara is one of those people who used to make entire meals from cheese, which surely must rank as one of the most addictive animal products. As Sara notes, who can deny that “gooey, salty, fatty, creamy foods are delicious?”

In this article, Sara shares some “whole food substitutes for cheese that can help you achieve the same types of flavors, without the dairy”.

Sara talks about focusing on adding lots of flavor to your plant-based food, including fresh herbs, sauces, dressings and spices, and making more of an effort in the kitchen to come up with tasty alternatives to cheese as a convenience food.

There are significant health issues with cheese highlighted in this article, including its high saturated fat and cholesterol content, and the links between dairy products and an increased risk of cancer and diabetes. Also mentioned is the cruelty of the dairy industry that ruthlessly exploits dairy cows and their offspring.

Several quality cheese substitutes are referred to in this article, which unfortunately for us in Australia are all US-based and unavailable. However, as Sara points out, you can make dairy free cheese from coconut milk, nuts, chickpea flour, even potatoes! She links to several vegan cheese recipes in her article.

If you’re wondering how you can give up, or reduce your reliance on dairy products, I recommend you read our 9 tips for giving up dairy, including cheese.

Have you tried any non-dairy cheeses or vegan cheese recipes? If you have, let us know what you think!

Superfoods for a superlife – in search of optimal longevity and nutrition

Rich Roll, plant-based vegan ultra-athlete, author, speaker, podcaster and blogger, featured Darin Olien on his podcast number 153. On this podcast, Darin shares insights and wisdom with Rich from his extraordinary adventure-based experiences as a widely recognized exotic superfoods hunter, wellness advocate and environmental activist.

To help himself heal from a football injury when he was young, Darin embarked on a twenty year quest to study exotic, indigenous herbs and superfoods across the globe. This included communing with thousands of rural farmers, growers and manufacturers in remote communities across Peru, Bhutan, the Amazon, the Himalayas, the South Pacific, Latin America and Asia. Now Darin sources high-quality, fair-trade superfoods and herbal commodities to market through his company, Darin’s Naturals.

In his work with fitness company Beachbody, Darin was instrumental in the development and ongoing formulation of the wildly successful whole-food supplement, Shakeology.

Darin chronicles his experience in his new book Superlife: The 5 Forces That Will Make You Healthy, Fit and Eternally Awesome – as well as on his website Superlife – where he demystifies health, fitness, nutrition, and longevity into simple daily actions designed to promote life-long wellness.

As Rich Roll observes, the term superfoods is prone to overuse. Are these foods truly “super” or is it all just exaggerated marketing hype? This is a conversation that explores that issue and much more. Recommended listening.

Hope you enjoy this week’s Green Nutrition News! Let me know what you think about any of the topics in the comment section below.

Tom Perry


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