Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whole Perspective

Burger and fries - "SAD" diet of the past
by guest blogger Joseph Baker

I was raised on a Midwestern diet of hamburgers, French fries and frothing glasses of ice-cold milk. I once tried to go vegetarian. I gave up that weekend, when a friend unknowingly made me a steak dinner, causing me to promptly cave on my resolutions to eat healthier. This "meat and potatoes" attitude followed me throughout college, until last winter.

I was working out at the gym, and my trainer noticed that I was congested and unable to draw a full, deep breath without coughing. After questioning me about my diet, he recommended that I cut dairy completely out. I started to notice a difference within a week—namely, I felt less sluggish and congested. After researching the negative side effects of dairy, I stopped consuming dairy altogether, except the rare snack of cheese.

According to the Huffington Post, there are six reasons to avoid dairy products:
  • Milk doesn't reduce bone fractures. To the contrary, the Nurses' Health Study suggests that dairy may actually increase risk of bone fractures by 50 percent.
  • Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (e.g., Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis, showing an inverse association between dairy consumption and bone health.
  • Studies of the effect of calcium supplementation on the human body show no benefits in reducing fracture risks. Rather, Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium when it comes to fracture prevention.
  • High levels of calcium and dairy product intake may lead to cancer. Research by medical professionals with an expertise in cancer shows that increased intake of calcium and dairy products increase a male's risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Furthermore, dairy consumption raises the level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is a known cancer promoter.
  • Calcium alone may offer some benefits. Specifically, calcium supplements (not dairy products) may reduce your risk for colon cancer.
  • Not everyone can digest dairy products. Nearly 75 percent of the world's population is genetically incapable of properly digesting milk and other dairy products; this is called lactose intolerance.
 When I combined these assertions with the knowledge that humans are the only mammals who drink another mammal's milk, the choice to discontinue dairy consumption was an easy one. It's always good to check in with a primary care physician or medical specialist with expertise in nutrition to make sure you know what calcium intake you need.

Whole health starts with whole foods
When I first learned of Whole Foods' "Health Starts Here" initiative, I was immediately fascinated with the concept, and curious to know how it had fared in the years since John Mackey's original TedMed talk. To my satisfaction, I discovered that as of January 2011, the program, which was initially launched in Austin and a few other markets, had been expanded to each of Whole Foods' 303 stores. In addition to offering this program to employees, customers are now invited to attend full-immersion healthy-eating boot camps.

When asked about the program, Mackey asserted, "We're not doing this to differentiate ourselves. We just think it's part of our purpose as a company." Whole Foods even added what they perceive to be Whole Foods' fundamental mission to its list of corporate core values: "Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education."

Watching Mackey's original TedMed presentation made me reevaluate some of my own dietary choices—in particular, the amount of animal products I consume. Mackey's insistence that a plant-based diet ought to be implemented "80 to 90 percent, or even 100 percent" of the time, as opposed to the present 12.5 percent, caught my attention, and I have decided to overhaul my dietary choices, and work to have a diet that is more plant-based than it currently is.

Harry Truman once quipped, "The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all." If you think that you know everything there is to know about leading a healthy lifestyle, I challenge you to choose an area of your life and focus on improving it. Whether it is introducing more plants and whole foods into your diet or resolving to exercise on a regular basis, you may be surprised at how easy it is to implement change. Your body will thank you for it!

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by Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacist

Check out Dustin Rudolph's book The Empty Medicine Cabinet to start your journey towards better health. This step-by-step guide leads you through many of today's common chronic diseases (heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and more), giving you the facts on foods versus medications in treating these medical conditions. The book also contains an easy-to-follow guide on how to adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet as a part of an overall lifestyle change, producing the best possible health outcomes for you and your family. Hurry and get your copy today!

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Photo credits:
Burger & Fries - Wikimedia (Max Slowik)
Fruits & Veggies - Flickr (USDA)

1 comment:

  1. Great article Joseph; thank you Dustin for sharing it with us. I was watching a sitcom the other day, and a woman in the show was disgusted when she realized that she was drinking a pregnant woman's milk. The woman was originally drinking it believing that she was drinking a pregnant cows milk - and that was okay! As it says in the article, only humans drink another mammals milk, and suffer the health problems because of this unnatural practice...


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