I had a conversation recently with someone about milk and realized that many people don’t know that our milk is high in hormones. While we have stopped the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH), diary cows in the US are typically always pregnant so the milk from those cows will be much higher in estrogen and progesterone than nonpregnant cows.
By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD
Eating more plants and less meat is becoming more popular than ever thanks to ex-presidents, celebrities, best-selling books, and movies such as Forks Over Knives. While vegetarian and vegan diets, are defined by what they exclude, a plant-based diet is defined by what it includes—lots of plant foods! This means eating more veggies, fruits, beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds instead of animal products and processed foods.
Need some motivation to try a plant-based diet? Here are five good reasons to consider.
1. It’s good for your health.
Dr. 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. While about 50 percent of Americans will develop high blood pressure by the age of 60, research shows that populations that consume a diet comprised mostly of vegetables or who are vegetarian have “virtually no increase in hypertension with age.”
Eating red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) is associated with increased rates of cancer and heart disease. And the American Cancer Society recommends eating a healthy diet for the prevention of cancer “…with an emphasis on plant foods”
Lastly, compelling new animal research has found that eating meat causes the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract to produce a compound that increases the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).
2. It’s easy to lose weight.
Let face it. If you are eating a lot of plant foods, many of which have only 10 to 50 calories per cup, you are going to lose weight. If you eat these foods in place of fast, fatty, processed, and sweet foods, you will cut out a ton of calories—and the best part is—you will feel full!
The classic American meal is a burger, fries, and a coke. At McDonalds, you can buy the following for 1,140 calories:
- quarter pounder with cheese
- medium order of fries
- medium coke
Or you can have the following plant foods for 1,140 calories:
- 3 cups of spring mix salad greens
- 3 Tb hummus
- ½ cup kidney beans
- 1 cup carrots
- 1 cup tomatoes
- 1 cup artichoke hearts
- 1 cup of sugar snap peas
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
And for dessert:
- 2 apples
- 2 bananas
- 2 cups of blueberries
Additionally, some research shows that meat is independently associated with obesity.
3. It’s good for the environment.
It takes about 15 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef and about 5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of chicken. We grow a lot of grain to feed animals, but we would use less water and other energy resources if we ate the grain ourselves.
An article in Scientific American reveals that the amount of beef the average American eats in a year creates as much greenhouse gas as driving a car over 1,800 miles!
A report released by the Environmental Working Group actually calculated how much greenhouse gas is produced by the food we eat. As you can see, animal products are the highest producers. So forget the lamb and eat the lentils!
4. It saves you money.
Many people think eating fast food, such as McDonald’s, is the cheapest way to eat. But actually eating plant-based foods can cost even less.
A McDonald’s meal for four people—including 2 Big Macs, a 6-piece Chicken McNuggets meal, a small hamburger, 4 medium fries, and 4 medium drinks—costs around $24.00.
But you could have lentil soup, salad, fruit, and sparkling mineral water, for four people for about $10.00!
Granted, you would spend more time cooking the lentil soup. However, you could make a large pot, put it in the frig or freezer, and have it for lunch or dinner over the next few days ultimately saving both time and money.
Beans, peas, and lentils are some of the cheapest foods you can buy. And a recent report even shows that fruits and veggies are more economical than we once thought.
5. You’re not supporting animal cruelty.
None of us wants to see the horrific treatment that animals are subjected to for our benefit. I know I certainly don’t. But I think it is important for all of us to understand how animal are treated so that we can make a conscious choice.
I will mention just one example, as a case in point: gestation crates for pigs. Once the sows are artificially inseminated, they are put in crates with just enough room for their bodies for their entire pregnancy. As the sows gets larger and larger they often develop pressure sores. They urinate and defecate through slots in the bottom of the crate. The smell of ammonia is strong enough to cause lung problems. Once the sow delivers it is back in the gestation crate. When the animals are spent, they are taken to slaughter. They use these horrific practices to save money and produce more meat, but at what cost? Pigs are intelligent animals and I just cannot be a part of this kind of suffering to save a few dollars.
I am not a vegan, I do occasionally eat animal products, mostly fish and eggs, but when I do eat them I go out of my way buy products from animals that have been humanely raised. One example is Vital Farms eggs. Yes, I pay more for them. However, for the very small amount of animal products I do eat, it’s worth it and does not break the bank.
It’s hard to argue with a plant-based diet when it benefits our health, waistline, environment, wallet, and conscience. Any movement towards more plants and less meat is a big step in the right direction. Why not skip the meat and eat some beans today?
Copyright © 2013 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.
by Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD
Many years ago I decided to go to an Oriental Medicine Doctor. One of the first things he told me to do was to stop consuming dairy, which he said was linked to a number of health conditions. Reluctantly, I complied. After about 2 days without it, I noticed something miraculous: I could actually breathe when I woke up in the morning for the first time in my life. And that was it. I cut out dairy for good and have never looked back.
Since I had such good results, I decided to take a closer look at the research related to dairy. And occasionally, I would tell patients to try cutting it out to see what benefits they might receive. In particular, I told people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sinus problems. One patient I saw had IBS. He told me he was committed to cutting out dairy for one month. I never saw him again but I did run into his doctor who said, “I don’t know that you did, but my patient is cured!”
How could something we grew up thinking was “nature’s perfect food,” actually turn out to be far from perfect? As a dietitian, I have been inundated with information and propaganda about dairy for years. However, as I started to read more independent research, I quickly realized dairy caused problems for a lot of people and may not be necessary for anyone at all.
So what are the issues with dairy?
- Lactose intolerance: Some people do not have the enzyme to break down milk sugar, so they get gas, bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. Certain ethnic groups such as Asians, blacks, and Native Americans have high rates of lactose intolerance.
- Sinus problems: Dr. Weil says you can see a dramatic improvement in sinus problems in two months by cutting out dairy. My improvement was practically overnight.
- Dairy is loaded with hormones. Even if you buy organic milk without recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), it will still have high hormone levels. Why? Because dairy cows are almost always pregnant with lots of circulating hormones that pass to the milk. This is not good news considering that hormones have been linked with an increased risk of breast, prostate, and testicular cancer.
- Ovarian cancer: Some research has linked dairy with ovarian cancer. While more research is needed, some of the sugars found in milk may increase risk. One study found a higher risk in women who consumed the most lactose.
- Prostate cancer: Consuming too much calcium appears to increase the risk of prostate cancer. A Harvard study found that men were twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer if they drank two or more glasses of milk each day. Another study found that men who consumed 2,000 mg of calcium a day had double the risk compared to men consuming less than 500 mg per day. Until we know more, drinking a lot of milk or talking a lot of calcium is not a good idea for men.
Mark Bittman, a food writer for the New York Times, cut out dairy and his heartburn disappeared in just 24 hours. He wrote about his experience and received 1,300 responses from people reporting that eliminating dairy got rid of migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, eczema, heartburn, acne, hives, asthma, gall bladder issues, body aches, ear infections, colic, seasonal allergies, rhinitis, chronic sinus infections and canker sores.
So what does dairy have to offer?
- Calcium? You can get the equivalent amount of bioavailable calcium found in one glass of milk from 1¾ cups of kale, 1½ cups of bok choy, 2½ cups of broccoli, 1 cup of turnip greens, or just over ½ cup of calcium set tofu. And there are a lot of alternative milks such as almond or soy that are fortified with calcium.
- Protein? There are much healthier sources of protein such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and veggies.
- Vitamin D? Sit in the sun, eat some salmon, or take a vitamin D supplement instead.
The good news is that you can easily replace cow’s milk with almond, soy, rice, hemp, or coconut milk instead. I love Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Milk. Cheese is a bit harder to replace in terms of taste, but there are options out there. I really like cashew cheese. I make it by soaking cashews overnight and then blending them with a little water, salt, and lemon juice. There are soy cheeses and cheeses made with tapioca starch, rice, and almonds as well. Nutritional yeast is a nice option to have in place of Parmesan cheese.
Why not try cutting dairy out for 30 days and see what happens? If you derive any benefit, please post a comment and let us know what happened!
Copyright © 2013 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.
By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD
It seems like more and more people that I know are being diagnosed with cancer. Seven years ago, my mom died of ovarian cancer. Two years later my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. Cancer does not run in either side of the family, which caused me to wonder what increased their risk. I also wanted to know what I could do lower my risk.
The good news is that there is a lot we can all do to decrease our chances of getting cancer. What you eat, how active you are, and how much you weigh are things you can influence and improve on every single day of your life.
These 5 changes will help to decrease your risk of getting cancer. There is emerging research that they can also decrease your risk of a recurrence if you are a cancer survivor.
1. Maintain a healthy weight. This is one of the most important things you can do. Aim for a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 21 and 23. (This link will help you calculate your BMI.) That is easier said than done considering that over ⅔ of the population in the U.S. is either overweight or obese—but it is possible!
Cutting out calorie-dense foods such as sugary drinks, sweets, fast foods, and foods high in fat is a good place to start. For example, the Panda Express Two Entrée meal with double orange chicken and chow mein has 1,330 calories! For some people, that is how many calories they should have in the entire day. If you replace it with a large salad with lots of veggies with 1 tablespoon of salad dressing, a bowl of lentil soup, and a cup of strawberries, you would save over 900 calories.
3. Eat mostly plant foods. Eat at least 3 pieces of fruit a day. Think of it as dessert after every meal. Eat as many veggies as you can. Aim for at least a few cups a day. In particular, go for the nonstarchy vegetables. Examples include kale, spinach, chard, romaine lettuce, baby greens, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, radishes, jicama, artichokes, onions, beets, celery, cauliflower, asparagus, hearts of palm, peppers (green, red, or yellow), sprouts, or sugar snap peas.
Also add beans, peas, and lentils to your diet. Choose whole grains instead of processed grains, such as oatmeal instead of corn flakes. Be adventurous and try things like quinoa or whole-wheat bulgur.
4. Avoid or limit red meat and totally avoid processed meats. Red meat includes beef, pork, and lamb. I know that the ads say pork is the “other white meat”, but remember that food manufacturers like to twist the truth to make a sale.
5. It is best to avoid alcohol. If you do drink, only have 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men. But if you have a history of breast cancer, having 3 to 4 drinks per week is associated with a 30-percent increased risk of breast cancer recurrence, so avoiding it may be your best option.
More Good News
If you do the hard work to make these changes, you will also have a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Good luck and remember, if I can do it, you can too!
Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.