Archive | obesity RSS feed for this section

Is Veganism Safe For Babies?

9 Jul

HuffPost Live

First of all, thank you Nancy Redd and HuffPost Live for having me for a much needed discussion. Watch the video here!

My thoughts to:

  • @chubbyveganmom – wish we were closer! I totally see our kids having fun in the kitchen together!
  • @FatGirlPosing – enjoy looking at your photos!  I thought you’d be interested in the new study out by National Health and Nutrition Examination
    Survey (NHANES) that states it is the lack of exercise, not food intake, that causes obesity.

Vegan Mamas out there: Are your Vegan Babies Healthy? Would love to hear from you!!!

NOTE: My Twitter is @MamaInDKtchn! Also, our family members are ranked rowers (NOT national rowers… wish we were though)! 🙂

 

Advertisements

A Link Between Allergies and Other Health Disorders (including Cancer)

6 Sep

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month so the disease is much on my mind.  In my recent research, I was amazed to discover that Mast Cells in Allergic Reactions are linked to Cancer and their manipulation is now being looked into as a possible treatment for Cancer.

My then 1 year old son’s eczema on a MILD day.

To Feed or Not To Feed My Son with Allergens?

While I believe feeding allergens to my son is toxic for his body, many people believe just the opposite.  The most common response I have received is: “You need to expose him to what he is allergic to so that his body gets used to it.  He needs to build up a defense to bad food!” 

Really?  And subject my son to terrible eczema day and night?  I don’t think so! If my son’s body exhibits a negative exterior response due to an allergen, can you just imagine the interior damage to his body?

Mast Cells Link Allergies to Health Disorders

Recently, I skimmed through Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Is Sick and What We Can Do About It.  In a section entitled “The Cancer Connection,”  she explains how allergies are linked to other health disorders, including cancer, through the presence of mast cells.

When a protein is identified as a “toxic invader,” the allergic body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which attach themselves to mast cells and produce cytokines and histamines against these “toxic invaders.”  At the same time, these mast cells cause allergic symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, breathing difficulties and inflammation in the body.  O’Brien states “Many doctors also believe [this] inflammation contributes to other disorders, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”

The Resources

As I dig a little deeper, I find even more reasons (and scientific proof!) NOT to feed my son foods to which he is allergic!

1. The Critical Role of Mast Cells in Allergy and Inflammation which shows that the presence of mast cells due to allergic and anaphylactic reactions cause a variety of inflammatory diseases affecting the heart, joints, lungs and skin including:

  • Asthma Bronchonstriction – pulmonary inflammation
  • Atopic dermatitis – Skin vasodilation, T-cell recruitment, inflammation, itching
  • Coronary artery disease – Coronary inflammation, myocardial ischemia
  • Chronic prostatitis – Prostate inflammation
  • Chronic rhinitis – Nasal inflammation
  • Fibromyalgia – Muscle inflammation, pain
  • Interstitial cystitis – Bladder mucosal damage, inflammation, pain
  • Migraine Meningeal – vasodilation, inflammation, pain
  • Multiple sclerosis – Increased blood–brain barrier permeability, brain inflammation, Demyelination
  • Neurofibromatosis – Skin nerve growth, fibrosis
  • Osteoarthritis – Articular erosion, inflammation, pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Joint inflammation, cartilage erosion

2. A few studies or reviews that link the presence of Mast Cells with

3. The Multifaceted Role of Mast Cells in Cancer which discusses and cites medical studies on how certain cancers proliferate due to the presence of mast cells. There is a theory that cancer is actually “a chronic allergic reaction mediated by mast cells.”  Tumor development or disease progression were linked to an increase in mast cell numbers in these cancers:

  • Rectal cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of mouth and lip
  • NSCLC adenocarcinomas (studies are contradictory)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Follicular lymphoma (but not with diffuse B-cell lymphoma)
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Gastric Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer

Unfortunately, simple is not always easy.  There are also studies that show that the presence of mast cells improves the survival of patients with breast, prostate and ovarian cancer – but these studies are in the minority.

Top 10 Questions on the Raw Vegan Diet

17 Jun

From a Restaurant Menu

UN-PROCESSED foods is what is important to me and my family. In getting rid of all the processed foods in our pantry, it made sense to increase foods that were at the other end of the spectrum: raw, fresh, organic, in-season fruits and vegetables.  For the past 2 years, my husband and son opted to eat at least 50% Raw Vegan Foods, with the other 50% cooked whole foods made from scratch.  I am on my 3rd year as a Raw Vegan (about 100%) and although I feel great, I am now contemplating adding more cooked whole Vegan foods into my diet.  Like I state below a few times, in my opinion, it would be a better choice to eat a plain steamed sweet potato than a big piece of raw cheese cake loaded with cashews and sweetener.  Also, some foods just taste better when they are slightly cooked (artichokes for example).  And some foods are not toxic when cooked (raw green beans were horrible for me for example).  However, on the whole, it is important for people to consider adding more RAW fruits and vegetables into their family’s diets because of the added nutritional and health benefits To help you understand what we have learned about adding more Raw Vegan Foods into our diets, here are the top 10 questions we get asked regularly.

1. Will my skin glow on a Raw Vegan Diet?

YES.  No doubt about it!

Although I have always looked young, I don’t think I’ve aged much either.  And since switching to a Raw Vegan Diet, I’ve had my share of compliments on my glowing facial skin.  Not only that, but my overall skin is clearer.   I grew up with constant whiteheads all over my arms and blackheads all over my legs. My dermatologists would charge me for different creams, shampoos and other quick-fixes which never worked.  Just 1 month after I turned Raw Vegan, all of these skin inflammations were gone and I had not one white or black head on my body.  I have since discovered that it is after I eat some foods sautéed in oil that I usually break out with a bump or two.

My son, who has had terrible eczema, now is at least 50% Raw also has beautiful flawless skin.  Hubby’s skin looks the same.

2.  Will I have a lot of energy on the Raw Vegan Diet?

YES.  On a balanced Raw Vegan Diet, I have more energy ‘to go the extra mile’ in situations where I did not before.  My husband has noted that I do much more and complain much less, especially when I need to clean up…  😉

3. Will I sleep less on the Raw Vegan Diet?

DEPENDS.  A lot of Raw Foodies really believe that they don’t need much sleep.  I used to get by with 5 hours of sleep a night on my first year of raw.  Now, on my third, I prefer about 7 hours.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I am more inclined to get sick.  So, I think this depends on the person.  Also, having a lot of energy while awake doesn’t equate to needing less sleep.

4.  Can I eat whatever I want on a Raw Vegan Diet?

NO.  I met a Raw Vegan once and she said on a Raw Vegan diet there isn’t a pyramid or plate chart to follow, “just eat whatever you feel like.”  Well… some famous Raw Vegans have become sick from an unbalanced diet of too many sweets and heavy foods (such as fruit, sweeteners, nuts), and too little greens (where the bulk of raw vegan nutrition is). Many long-time Raw Vegans have added raw dairy, raw egg and raw fish back into their diets because they felt something was missing.  Like any diet, a Raw Vegan must pay attention to daily balanced nutrition.  In my opinion, it would be a better choice to eat a plain steamed sweet potato than a big piece of raw cheese cake loaded with cashews and sweetener, for example.

What I have discovered on a Raw Vegan Diet is that I can easily pinpoint what my body needs by being sensitive to little changes.  I have found that I need to supplement with iodine, zinc and B12, for example.

(Resource: Raw Vegan Ingredients and Foods Raw Vegans Avoid)

5. Can I gain weight on a Raw Vegan Diet?

YES. You actually can gain weight and some people have!  If you eat a lot of nuts, avocados and oils, you can gain weight on a Raw Vegan Diet.  That said, it is easy to maintain your weight on a Raw Vegan Diet if you have a tendency to gain weight.  But you can also lose a lot of weight and have difficulty putting on some.

One thing that I have discovered is that I crave a lot of GREENS.  When I do crave other foods, I don’t eat a whole lot of it to feel satisfied.  When I get hungry, I don’t get “I-need-to-eat-now!!!” mad like I used to.

6. Will I get sick on a Raw Vegan Diet?

People have cured themselves off many diseases on the Raw Vegan Diet, which is testament to its efficacy. But, YES.  It’s not that we never get sick by adding more raw produce into our diets, but we get sick much less.

On 100% Cooked Foods, my husband and son were sick at least once a month.  I was sick less, but perhaps more than a few times a year.  After adding more Raw Vegan foods into our diet, we are all sick much less and our immune systems are much stronger.  By combining more Raw foods with exercise, sleep, time outdoors for sun and fresh air and more time to relax, we are creating a much healthier lifestyle for our family.

Note: The one thing that Raw Vegans must watch out for is food poisoning.  We have to be vigilant in washing our produce before we feed our family.  Animal foods are not the only foods that carry E. coli these days!  Also look at question #4.

7. 100% Raw Vegan is the only way to go!

NO.  Some people add only 25% Raw – and still feel the added benefits.  Many prefer to eat 50% Raw, but the term Raw Vegan describes people who are at least 75% Raw.  Although your family may prefer cooked foods, by adding live foods to your diet a little at a time, you and your family may be surprised how much Raw foods you are actually eating and enjoying in the process: a fresh fruit for breakfast, big salads for lunch and dinner, green smoothies and fresh juices at mealtimes or snack times, and raw desserts.

8. Is All Cooked Food poison?

NO.  Although a lot of Raw Vegans believe all cooked food is poison, I cannot make such a blanket statement.  What I like to say instead is that processed foods are poison!  What is most important is to UN-PROCESS the foods our families eat to improve their health.  We need to focus on foods prepared from raw, fresh, organic, local and seasonal whole foods – whether Raw or Lightly Cooked.  Like I said before, in my opinion, eating a plain steamed sweet potato is better than eating a big piece of raw cheesecake loaded with cashews and sweetener, for example.

9. Is it more expensive to add Raw Vegan foods to my family’s diet?

YES and NO.    It is true that buying organic produce is expensive, but I buy them on sale.  In our favourite health food store, produce is 30% off on certain days.  That’s when I buy!  A savings of 30% is tremendous.   And, if I cooked all the produce I already buy, I’d have to buy even more.  My family would want to eat double the amount of servings of  cooked foods as they would the same food served fresh, which is more filling.

Most restaurants serve salads these days! I ask them to make a big bowl of any fresh and raw veggies they have.

10. I won’t be able to eat out on a Raw Vegan Diet and I’ll have to learn to be satisfied with boring food!

NO.  Most restaurants have fruit and vegetables on the menu.  I order salads or slightly cooked vegetables for my family when we eat out.  There are also so many options available today for eating more Raw Vegan Fare.  In my own city, for example, we have our local Good Life Café.  In DC, we love going to Java Green where they serve Raw and Cooked Vegan fare.  In NYC, we have loved Pure Foods and Wine.  In London, we visit SAF Kensington on top of Whole Foods.  All their menus are interesting and their food delicious!  Just look at my Food Photos and you can see that Raw Vegan Food is far from boring.  There is an abundance of fruits, vegetables and dishes to eat and enjoy!

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

26 May

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food:

prepare everything from scratch and

eliminate processed foods as much as possible.

Organic Candy without High Fructose Corn Syrup... Is it better? (answer below)

Can a Vegetarian Diet be BAD?

I ‘got’ it. I was vegetarian in high school and college because I learned that a plant-based diet was better for my health and for the planet.  But on a vegetarian diet, I was sluggish and gained at least 20 pounds in my first semester of college.  Even my own mother didn’t recognize me at the airport when she came to pick me up for Christmas break.  I had to stand right in front of her, wave my hands before her eyes and say “Hi!”  It is definitely not a fond homecoming memory.

I confess I did go a little food crazy in college. Sugar-coated cereal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Countless dining hall visits for Ranch dressing, Honey Mustard dressing, Mayonnaise, American cheese melts, Pesto Pasta, cookies, ice cream with sprinkles galore at the dining hall. I also got a job at the Student Center Cafe, thinking I would learn how to cook for myself.  Well, I didn’t learn a thing.  The only thing I did learn was how to use the griddle and fryer, slap flat foods together to make sandwiches and slice tomatoes.  Everything else was pre-packaged and pre-made somewhere else. Looking back, I realize that most of the food I bought or ate or touched were highly processed foods – not whole foods.

A Processed Culture

I understand why we are attracted to ready-made convenience foods: they do not require much work or energy.  We want food NOW without having to work for it.  We want to be healthy but we don’t want to put the effort into actually preparing our meals directly from whole foods.  We want things EASY.

The thing is though, like most things, it requires work on our part to get something really worth anything.  Nutrition is no exception – plant-based or not.

The Difference

Consider this: When a fruit or vegetable is 5 days old, it will contain only 40% of it’s original nutrients.  How about processed foods with long shelf-lives?

Plant-based whole-foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  They are in their natural state and are not packaged, canned, bottled or boxed.  Most of the time, you can eat them fresh (washed or not) or they may require some time and attention (cleaning, prepping, dressing/marinating, cooking).

Processed foods, on the other hand, require little time and attention.  Most are ready to eat as is (junk food) or require some cooking (frozen dinners).  They are foods that have been so drastically altered from their natural state.  They are anything canned, boxed, bottled and packaged.  They are foods that are full of preservatives, artificial flavors and artificial coloring. They include anything refined (like white flours and sugars), any hydrogenated fats, any processed meats, anything with soy fillers, artificial food grade chemicals and additives.  

Plant-based processed foods are a whole niche market dedicated to serving ready made Veggie Meats and Veggie Dairy to vegans and vegetarians.  Unfortunately, these are highly processed foods too, containing especially high amounts of soy (most of which is genetically modified).

What’s The Big Deal?

Although we call them ‘food’, processed foods are not readily recognized by the bodyThey are seen as alien matter and our white blood cells will be on attack mode as soon as they enter our system.  Processed foods create toxins in our systems and cause degenerative diseases.  For our planet, processed foods require more energy and packing material.  Most of all, processed foods create more waste.

What’s more? 75% of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients – even foods labeled organic!  Of all seeds planted in the US, 93% of all soy, 86% of all corn and 93% of all canola seeds are genetically modified. According to Monica Eng of the Los Angeles Times, their bi-products “have become such common ingredients in processed foods that even one of the nation’s top organic food retailers says it hasn’t been able to avoid stocking some products that contain them.” People are generally unaware of foods containing GMOs: only 26% of Americans think they have eaten anything genetically modified and only 28% believed genetically modified ingredients were sold in stores.

The Ills of GMO

There has not been a long-term human study conducted to prove genetically modified organisms are safe.  A peer-reviewed paper GM Crops – Just The Science by The Non-GMO Project states that genetically modified ingredients:

  • “can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • can disrupt the ecosystem, damage vulnerable wild plant and animal populations and harm biodiversity
  • increase chemical inputs (pesticides, herbicides) over the long term
  • deliver yields that are no better, and often worse, than conventional crops
  • cause or exacerbate a range of social and economic problems
  • are laboratory-made and, once released, harmful GMOs cannot be recalled from the environment.”

Repercussions: Our Children’s Health

Studies have shown that processed foods are contributing to our children’s emotional and/or health disorders.  Recently, processed foods have been shown to adversely affect our children’s intelligence.  And yet, processed foods are still everywhere: in home kitchens, restaurants, cafeterias, and worse of all, they are used as gifts and rewards for children.

A few months ago, my friend Christina told me her children’s teacher at school was still giving Potato Chip parties every Friday for the best performing student of the week.  The kids also received daily Candy Rewards for good behavior.  My niece Lia is only in preschool and candy rewards are there too.  And it doesn’t end at school.  There are always boxed juices, frosted cupcakes and pinatas full of more candy at birthday parties. Doctors visits end with lollipops. People who want to do good, like Cookies for Cancer, raise money for cancer research by selling cookies with vegetable shortening, white sugar, sweetened condensed milk, packaged refrigerated cookie dough and Angel Coconut Flakes. Then there is Easter Bunnies, then Halloween Trick or Treating, then Holiday Sweets…  These are all occasions for highly processed foods with genetically modified soy, corn and canola products no doubt.

What adults are essentially saying to children is “You are so good!  Here’s some junk food that causes disease!” Why does our culture encourage this shameful and imbalanced exchange? Is it correct to reward our good children with processed foods containing empty calories and zero nutrients?  Is it right that we give them foods that negatively affect their future health?  Is it acceptable that by rewarding with these processed foods that children will be more resistant to eating whole foods?  Is it suitable that we are allowing children to crave junk foods by using them as rewards? According to Joanne Ikeda, a nutrition education specialist highly regarded for her work on childhood obesity, these are all the factors why foods (especially candy) must not be used as rewards for good behavior.

What’s A Mama To Do?

After a whole year of my son pestering me for the same lollipops he’s seen other kids eating (“Mama, REAL lollipops not my Banana Lollipops“), I finally ran out of distraction tactics or maybe he just wore me down.  So the other day, this Raw Vegan Mama succumbed to buying organic processed lollies for her son.  He’s only allowed 1 a week, which he rarely remembers and hubby and I conveniently forget to remind him.  The top 3 ingredients are: organic evaporated cane juice, organic tapioca syrup and organic rice syrup.  Not bad, no high-fructose corn syrup at least.  But all 3 ingredients are still processed foods. I sigh – almost defeated.  If you’ve read Is Sugar Toxic? you wouldn’t want your children to consume any kind of processed sugars either.

Resources on Plant-Based Whole Foods Diet

Blue Vinyl, The China Study, The Cove, Diet For A New AmericaFood Matters, Forks Over Knives, Mad Cowboy

Obesity Understood

7 Sep
Last week Karen Ranzi shared her thoughts with us on Baby’s First Food.  This week she discusses obesity. 

Obesity Understood—Now and Forever Impossible on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables 

       Whereas diets don’t work in the long run, lifestyle improvement detailed throughout Creating Healthy Children offers lifelong health benefits. The life in our foods communicates with the life in us, but, unfortunately, this vital aspect is lost once foods are processed. White, refined foods are addictive—we always want more in an effort to find that spark of life that has been removed from these foods, ironically to give them shelf life.    


        Parents reading Creating Healthy Children are most likely not to have obese children because they are already aware of the health promoting aspects of fresh fruits and vegetables.  When food is whole, ripe, fresh and organic, it not only contains vitamins and minerals that satisfy us, in addition to the essential fiber that keeps us full, but it isn’t an incapacitating full feeling as  after the standard Thanksgiving dinner. Feeling full on fresh foods is being free of hunger and satisfied—energetic.  


        The fiber in all fresh vegan foods (animal foods have none) has powerful cleansing benefits.  When food is refined, processed, denatured in packages, it no longer has the above characteristics in tact, and the eater will not be satisfied in the long run, but remains hungry.  In an attempt to obtain the essential nutrients, there will always be a craving for more, but refined foods will always lack what the body needs, and overeating of nutritionally empty foods ensues.


       The results of  such “empty” eating habits are vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and obesity, which is not only unaesthetic but lays the groundwork for myriad diseases.  


       Whenever there is excess body fat, there is an accumulation of toxins in the fat cells that must be diluted in water.  The fat cells thus become bloated, heavy, and all bodily functions become more difficult, resulting in diseases based solely on eating disorders; in reality, the disorder is the empty food that has been destroyed by heat, chemicals, and other processing techniques before it could be eaten. Ironically, the obesity victim is really starving for nutrients found only in fresh vegan foods.


       Animal products contain cholesterol which clogs the blood vessels.  Fruits and vegetables are 100% cholesterol-free—our livers make all we need.  There is no dietary requirement for cholesterol.  Animal fat is solid at body temperature whereas fruit and vegetable fat is liquid.  Unfortunately, obese children are clogging their arteries, building the cause for future diseases that are unknown in countries where people are, fortunately, too poor to eat animals and their byproducts.  


       Even vegan children risk obesity when white foods are eaten: white flour, refined sugar, salt, white potatoes, starchy, sugary refined cereals, white rice, crackers, breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, etc.  Baking and frying are done at high temperatures.  Not only are the heated oils and shortening toxic to the point of becoming carcinogenic, the resultant acrylamide (a deadly golden brown plastic), albeit crunchy to taste, becomes another toxin that gets stored in the fat cells and has to be diluted with water held in solution—hence obesity.  When the precepts of Creating Healthy Children are lived, obesity will no longer be an epidemic but an impossibility.