Search This Blog


Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Just In: Extra Calories Make People Gain Weight!

Eating More Fructose Than Nature Intended Is Also Probably a Bad Idea

I recently read an article about a study that supposedly found that high-fructose corn syrup had a different effect on the body than did “regular sugar.” This made little sense, because high-fructose corn syrup is only slightly higher in fructose than table sugar is. In fact, the study said exactly nothing about any difference between table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. On the other hand, it did say that drinking a lot of sugar water can make you gain weight really fast.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Get Organized, Eat Better

Two of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and to get organized. The good news is that it’s easier to do both if you do them together. If you have regular meals of healthy food, you’ll be less likely to fill up on junk.

To do my meal planning and make up my shopping lists, I use the system that Pam Young and Peggy Jones introduced in their book The Sidetracked Sisters Catch Up on the Kitchen. Pam and Peggy have written a series of very funny books packed with practical advice to enable the congenitally disorganized to get control of their homes and their lives. Their meal planning system involves index cards, one card for each menu.

Each of my menu cards represents an entire meal. It includes the names of the dishes, along with where I can find the recipe, and a list of all the ingredients. I also include special instructions, such as if I have to start soaking beans the day before. When I plan my meals, I try to include a variety of tastes and textures. If a main dish requires baking, I’ll include a dessert that has to be baked at the same temperature. I even indicate whether the recipe is seasonal. For example, I’ll have recipes for asparagus in the spring, and pumpkin in the fall.

To do my meal planning, I just select some of my cards. The cards tell me all the ingredients I'll need. While I’m making one day’s meal, I’ll check the following day’s card, to see if I have to soak any beans or do any other kind of advanced preparation.

Of course, that’s not the only way to switch to a healthy low-fat, plant-based diet. Karen Barron achieved it without complicated recipes. “Just cook the food ahead on the day that you have off and you can have your whole thing streamlined and organized for the whole week. Just have your boiled potatoes, have your cooked grains. We make these things we call “veggie tubs” where we put a mixture of raw vegetables in individual little containers so that they’re grab and go. You can make it as streamlined as you want it to be…. Just make a decision that you’re going to try it for a given amount of time, and if you do that your tastes will change, and you’ll have the results you want, and you’ll have them quickly.”

Monday, December 28, 2009

What People Can Achieve by Eating a Low-Fat, Plant-Based Diet

If you have any chronic health problem, I don’t care what it is, consider making a change in your diet. Often, a simple exclusion diet protocol can help you cure devastating diseases like type 2 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. It can also make you heart-attack-proof and reduce your risk of cancer. A change to a low-fat, plant-based diet is simple and cheap and has no side effects. If you have any serious health problem, talk to a registered dietitian (look for the "RD" after their name) as well as your doctor before making a change in diet.

Lose Weight
The secret to effortless weight loss is to go ape and eat plants. Switch to a high-fiber, low-fat diet based on unrefined starches and lots of vegetables. Eat as much of these foods as you can hold, and you'll be less tempted to snack on high-calorie junk food.

Stop Multiple Sclerosis
Dr. Roy Swank showed that you can stop the progression of multiple sclerosis just by taking the animal products and fat out of the diet. Dr. John McDougall is carrying on this research.

Become Heart-Attack-Proof
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn took a bunch of patients with advanced coronary artery disease and made them “heart-attack-proof” just by teaching them to eat the right kinds of food.

Cure Type 2 Diabetes
Dr. Neal Barnard proved that a low-fat, plant-based diet is better than the American Diabetes Association’s standard dietary recommendations for controlling type 2 diabetes. Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s patients with type 2 diabetes become “undiabetic” within a matter of weeks if they eat that way.

Dramatically Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
T. Colin Campbell, PhD, a world-famous nutritional biochemist and nutritional epidemiologist, has shown that the more animal-based foods people eat, the higher their risk of cancer. In animal models, scientists could turn the development of tumors on and off just by increasing or decreasing the amount of animal protein in the diet. 

Fight Arthritis
Arthritis is not an inevitable consequence of age. It is comparatively rare in societies where people eat a low-fat, plant-based diet. About 70% of people with the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, can expect dramatic benefits, and often a cure, in less than 4 weeks of diet change. The diet must be followed strictly – medications are reduced and stopped as improvements occur.

Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is reversible, if you eat a plant-based diet, get reasonable exposure to sunshine, and get some exercise. Believe it or not, dairy products actually make osteoporosis worse.

Relieve Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Inflammatory bowel diseases occur almost exclusively in parts of the world where the diet is high in meat and dairy foods, and are rare in countries where people still consume starch-based, almost entirely vegetarian meals.

Avoid Surgery for Gallstones
Gallstones are usually made of cholesterol, and they result when people overload their system with fatty, high-cholesterol foods.

Prevent Varicose Veins, Hemorrhoids, Hiatal Hernia, Uterine Prolapse
All of those disorders result from constipation. When people strain to move their bowels, the abnormally high pressure in the belly can damage the valves in the veins and push various organs out of their normal positions.

Appendicitis and Diverticulosis
The high-protein, low-fiber Western diet is the cause of appendicitis and diverticulosis.

The List Goes On and On
Many other diseases have been shown to be the result of the rich, fatty, low-fiber standard American diet. I should also have listed acne, bad breath, body odor, and erectile dysfunction, along with kidney and liver disease. The sad thing is that many people unwittingly subject themselves to these diseases in their attempt to avoid "protein deficiency," even though protein deficiency isn't a real problem in human beings. After all, where do gorillas get their protein? 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Boxing Day Tsunami: Did Our Taste for Shrimp Doom People to Drown?

Harvesting food from the sea has always taken a serious toll in human life. As Sir Walter Scott once wrote: "It’s no fish ye’re buying, it’s men’s lives." The same principle may have applied to the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. The devastation of the coastal mangrove forests by the commercial shrimp farming industry stripped coastal communities of an important buffer against the power of the sea.

A study published in Science in 2005 showed that where the mangrove forests still existed, they did provide valuable protection against the Boxing Day Tsunami.

Here's what happens when there's nothing standing between you and the power of the ocean:

One way to help protect the mangroves, and the ecosystems and communities they support, is to stop eating shrimp. For more information, visit the Mangrove Action Project ( and their Shrimp Less, Think More blog (

In case you were wondering, gorillas don't fish. If gorillas don't need to eat seafood in order to grow big and strong, neither do you. Nor do human beings need to eat seafood in order to grow a large and useful brain.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How Gorillas Celebrate Christmas--With Brussels Sprouts!

Just Make Sure You Stay Upwind of Them

At Christmastime last year, the Chessington World of Adventures, in Surrey, England, gave their gorillas some Brussels sprouts. The gorillas loved them, but the aftereffects horrified the zoo visitors.

Gorilla keeper Michael Rozzi said: "We feed the gorillas Brussels sprouts during the winter because they are packed with vitamin C and have great nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, an embarrassing side effect is that it can cause bouts of flatulence in humans and animals alike. However, I don't think any of us were prepared for a smell that strong." The gorillas didn't seem to care, nor did any of the gorillas ask anyone to pull their finger. The zoo keepers solved the problem by giving the gorillas their Brussels sprouts after closing time. On Christmas Day, when the zoo was closed to the public, the gorillas got to eat Brussels sprouts all day long. It was a solution that worked for everyone.

I eat a lot of Brussels sprouts in the winter, and I eat other members of the cabbage family and lots of beans year-round, but I never have a gas problem. I'm grateful for that, but it means I can't use myself as a subject to test possible remedies. Some people recommend Bean-o, and others recommend spices and herbs such as cumin, fennel, caraway, dill, peppermint, chamomile, sage, and thyme.

Many people who think that they hate Brussels sprouts really only hate overcooked Brussels sprouts. Overcooking releases a stinky sulfur compound called sinigrin. Try cooking your sprouts for only 6 to 7 minutes, and see if that makes a difference. The sinigrin will stay put, until you digest the sprouts.

Sinigrin may stink, but it's probably good for you. It evidently causes cancer cells in the colon to commit suicide, which could help to explain why populations that eat a lot of cabbage and other members of the Brassica family, including Brussels sprouts, have a low risk of colon cancer.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fresh Leaves All Winter, From an Unheated Greenhouse, in Maine!?!?

They’re on the Same Line of Latitude as the South of France

Gorillas can eat leaves all year round because they live in the tropics. What about those of us who live in the North? The only leaves I see around here today are pine needles, which don’t seem edible.

We could eat produce that has been shipped from Florida or California, but think of all the fossil fuel that would get burned up. Is there another alternative? Evidently, there is. Eliot Coleman has written books about how to grow tasty leaves all year round, in an unheated greenhouse, in Maine. After he realized the shocking fact that his home in Maine is on the same line of latitude as the South of France, he started using the same techniques that the Europeans have long used for extending their growing season. He now harvests salad greens all year round.

For the really hard-core, here's a greenhouse from Canada that works without supplemental heat in temperatures of -30 degrees Fahrenheit. It's insulated with soap bubbles.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why People Didn’t Need Doctors in Shangri-La

It Wasn’t Just the Apricots

In his novel Lost Horizon (, the British writer James Hilton wrote about a fictional valley named Shangri-La, which was located somewhere high in the Himalayas. There’s something magical about this valley. People who enter it regain their health, and they age very slowly while in the valley. So they live seemingly forever.

Of course, there was never really any such place as Shangri-La, but I was reminded of it when I read this passage from Studies in Deficiency Disease, by Sir Robert McCarrison, Oxford Medical Publications, Henry Frowde and Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1921 (

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why Gorillas Are So Gentle

The Upside and Downside of Living on Leaves

All of the great apes are plant-eaters. Even chimpanzees, which occasionally hunt and kill small animals and eat them, still eat less meat than nearly any human society. Yet the various great ape species fit into different ecological niches, so they focus on different kinds of plant foods. Chimpanzees are mainly fruit eaters. Although gorillas will eat fruit and nuts whenever they’re available, they mainly eat leaves.

The fact that gorillas mainly eat leaves explains a lot about their behavior and social structure. Leaves don’t run away, so there’s no need to chase them. Leaves are so abundant in the gorilla’s habitat, and so low in calories, that it’s pointless to fight over them. A tree full of ripe fruit or nuts is another matter, entirely. In general, I’d expect animals that mainly eat leaves to be nicer than animals that mainly eat fruit, because they have less to fight over.

Gorillas face the same kinds of challenges as any animal that specializes in eating leaves. Here are a few of those challenges, as explained by Fiona Sunquist (The strange, dangerous world of folivory. International Wildlife; January-February, 1991; pages 4-10):

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where Should Danes Get Their Protein?

I Mean Regular Danes, Not “Great Danes”

Even though Denmark was neutral during World War I, the disruption of international trade as a result of the war meant that the Danish population faced the prospect of mass starvation. That’s because the Danes had been importing about half of their grain supply, much of which was being used to feed farm animals. To keep the Danish population from starving, the Danish government assigned a physician and nutritionist named Mikkel Hindhede, who was the manager of the Danish National Laboratory for Nutrition Research, in Copenhagen, to design a system of rationing.

Hindhede decided that the Danes should stop feeding grain to farm animals, or using it to make alcohol, but should eat what grain they had themselves. Hindhede told people not to worry about getting enough protein, or enough fat. As Hindhede reported to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “No attention was paid to the protein minimum. It was held that this minimum was so low for man that it could not be reached, provided sufficient calories were furnished. While fat was regarded as a very valuable addition to the dietary, it was not considered as being necessary.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Up to 70 pounds of salad per day

"We portray the gorillas as such a savage beast… but they’re vegetarians…. They don’t prey on anything…. A big silverback can eat as much as 70 pounds per day."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Low Should Total Cholesterol Be?

Below 150 mg/dL, According to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

“Based on the groundbreaking results of his 20-year nutritional study—the longest study of its kind ever conducted—this book explains, with irrefutable scientific evidence, how we can end the heart disease epidemic in this country forever by changing what we eat. Here, Dr. Esselstyn convincingly argues that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent and stop the progression of heart disease, but also reverse its effects.”

Heart attack is virtually nonexistent in populations whose heavily plant-based diet keeps the average person's total cholesterol below 150 mg/dL.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Plants Provide Everything But Vitamin D and Vitamin B12

Vitamin D Comes From Sunshine, Vitamin B12 From Bacteria

How can a diet consisting mainly of leaves give gorillas enough protein to grow big and strong? It’s because leaves contain protein. Leaves are low in calories, but a lot of their calories come from protein. In fact, most ordinary plant foods contain more than enough protein to meet human nutritional needs. Nutrition scientists have known for nearly a hundred years that as long as you are eating any reasonable plant-based diet, if you take care of the calories, the protein takes care of itself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Roasted Eggplant in Pasta Sauce

A Quick and Easy Way to Enjoy Eggplant

Slice an eggplant in half lengthwise and then put it, cut-side down, on a cookie sheet. Broil it under the broiler in the oven until the skin is wrinkly. Take it out of the oven and let it cool until it is cool enough to handle. Then peel the skin off. Dice the roasted eggplant pulp and add to your favorite pasta sauce.

Helpful hint: If you are going to roast or microwave an eggplant or a potato or any other fruit or vegetable with a skin on it, slice it open or at least poke holes in the skin. Otherwise, the expanding steam may cause the vegetable to explode and create a huge mess.

Going Ape Lowers Cholesterol

A Gorilla-Style Diet Was Comparable to Lovastatin in Lowering Cholesterol

Maybe the benefits of the “Mediterranean diet” come from the ratatouille, not from the olive oil and fish:

In case you are wondering, aubergine means eggplant.