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Protein – Our modern day obsession – “Where do you get your protein?”

It is funny and I should now be very rich.  Why – because when I tell people that I eat a plant-based diet, the first question I get is, “so where do you get your protein”?

 

As i say, I’d be very rich if I asked everyone who asks me that for £1.

 

Why do I find it funny?  Well for so many years of my life, I dieted.  I even lost 100lbs on LighterLife (which I put back on).  At no point did anyone ever say: “oh where will you get your fats from”, nor showed any concern for my often extremely bad food choices.  No-one ever questioned me when I was scoffing tons of unhealthy food down like a vacuum cleaner on steroids, despite having a history of heart disease in my family.

But now I eat a plant based diet, I get asked this a lot.

So here is an experiment with a sample of 1 – Ok, so not the most valid or scientific of experiments, but let me explain.  I have been eating a Plantalicious diet for over a year and have never experienced any of the symptoms of protein deficiency.

 

Here is an article that I found on the wonderful site – http://www.nomeatathlete.com/where-vegetarians-get-protein/ and is reproduced here with their kind permission.

 

First, my standard answer to the question, Where do you get your protein?:

You don’t need as much protein as most people think, and it’s easy to get what you do need from beans, nuts, seeds, grains, soy, and even greens.

So how much protein do you really need?

Not as much as people would have you believe. Somehow, everyone got the idea that we need exorbitant amounts of protein, way more than is even recommended. I know, it’s fun to blame government agencies and cry conspiracy, but if you actually look at the recommendations, they’re not that high at all.

For example, the U.S. recommended daily allowance of protein is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (.36 grams per pound) for the general population.

Athletes need more than that, mostly due to greater tissue-repair needs. But how much more protein do we need as athletes?

Several sources I looked at cited a study which concluded that endurance athletes benefit most from 1.2 to 1.4 daily grams per kilogram of bodyweight, while strength athletes do best with 1.4 to 1.8 grams per kilogram. In pounds, that’s .54 to .63 grams per pound for endurance athletes, .63 to .81 grams per pound for strength athletes.

A simple example

Let’s take a typical No Meat Athlete reader and see what this means for her, let’s a say a 140-pound runner. We’ll split the daily protein range for endurance athletes in the middle and aim for .59 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight:

140 pounds * .59 grams/pound = 83 grams of protein per day

Keep in mind that’s for a 140-pound endurance athlete, so you’ll need to plug in your own weight and, if you do a strength sport, use a different protein figure.

But really, only 83 grams?

All of this protein fuss — the incessant inquisition about where we get protein — is over 83 grams per day, even after adjusting for being an athlete? (And if our 140-pound woman weren’t an athlete, she’d need only 50 grams to hit the RDA number!)

What the pros say

Before we move onto good vegan and vegetarian protein sources for getting this amount, let’s take a look at what some well-known and credentialed vegans say about protein.

  • In the documentary Forks Over Knives, China Study author Dr. T. Colin Campbell says that you need 8 to 10 percent of your calories to come from protein. (Keep in mind he’s not necessarily talking about athletes.)
  • Vegan Ironman Brendan Brazier, in his appearance on No Meat Athlete radio (which is coming back soon, by the way!), says he eats about 15 percent protein when training for short events, and close to 20 percent protein during periods of heavy training (several hours per day) for long endurance events.
  • Tim Ferriss writes in The 4-Hour Body that ultrarunner Scott Jurek gets 15 to 20 percent of his calories from protein.
  • Matt Ruscigno, in the post he wrote for No Meat Athlete about vegetarian protein, says he recommends that his athlete clients get 10 to 15 percent of their calories from protein.

Notice that everybody expresses things in percentages rather than grams. How does our 83 grams of protein, for a 140-pound female endurance athlete stack up in terms of percentage of total calories?

Well, the first thing to note is that a gram of protein contains four calories. (Yay for paying attention in health class!) So:

83 grams * 4 calories/gram = 332 calories of protein

We’ll need to divide this figure by total daily calories to get the percentage we’re after. I plugged my imaginary friend’s stats (5’3″, 140 lbs, female, very active) into this basal metabolic rate calculator to approximate her total daily calories at 2375. Drumroll, please …

322 calories of protein / 2375 total calories = 13.6% of calories from protein

Not far off from the 15 percent that most of our experts mentioned! Based on all of this, aiming to get 15 percent of your calories from protein seems like a pretty good rule of thumb.

(And by the way, I find using percentages to be a much easier way to evaluate a food’s protein content than grams. See a post I wrote about using protein percentages.)

Where do vegetarians get their protein?

There’s no shortage of lists of high-protein vegan foods floating around. As you might expect, they’re topped by soy products (tempeh is much higher in protein than tofu), seitan, and legumes.

My personal favorite vegan foods for protein, in rough, descending order of how often I eat them, are:

  • Lentils (red are my favorites), 18 grams of protein per cup
  • Chickpeas, 12 grams/cup
  • Tempeh (locally made in Asheville!), 41 grams per cup
  • Black beans, 15 grams per cup
  • Nuts and nut butters (I eat a good mix, usually without peanuts), varied
  • Tofu, 11 grams per 4 ounces
  • Quinoa, 9 grams per cup
  • Other legumes, varied
  • Grains, varied

These protein content numbers come from the Vegetarian Resource Group’s excellent article on vegetarian protein.

I also add a protein supplement to my smoothie each morning, which gets me about 20 grams to start the day, before you consider the protein from flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and almond butter that I also throw in there. I like the Vega Sport protein blend of hemp, rice, and pea, but often to save money I use this one, which also includes protein from chia seeds. (These links are both affiliate links, meaning No Meat Athlete earns a small commission if you use them to buy anything).

Don’t ignore amino acids!

All protein is not created equally. Protein is made up of amino acids, and there are certain ones, called “essential,” which your body cannot produce on its own and must get through food.

As long as you’re eating a wide variety of whole foods — a good practice to follow for many reasons — you’re probably getting a nice mix of amino acids. One, though, that’s particularly tough for vegetarians to get, is lysine, as explained in this article on protein from Vegan Health.

Only a few vegan foods contain lysine in large amounts, but fortunately, they’re staples in many of our diets: tempeh, tofu, and legumes. If you don’t eat beans or soy, because of allergies or some other reason, you’ll need to pay special attention to lysine, and it might be worth considering an amino acid supplement.

See an old No Meat Athlete article for a breakdown of which foods contain which amino acids.

My easy way to get enough protein every day

As it turns out, I weigh around 140 pounds, so the 83 grams of protein mentioned above is right about what I aim for. (I’m fairly certain I’m not female, but sex only entered the conversation when we were estimating total calories.)

So how do I get my 83 grams of protein per day?

My approach to getting enough protein is very simple:

Make sure you include a decent protein source, even if just a little bit, in every meal or snack.

Mainly, this just keeps you mindful and prevents you from slipping into junk-food-vegan, carbohydrate-only mode. It’s as easy as adding nuts or beans to your salad, protein powder to your smoothiealmond butter on your bagel, or beans to your pasta dish (actually not an inauthentic thing to do in Italy). For snacks, eat a handful of nuts, spread some sunflower butter on your apple, make roasted chickpeas, dip a pita in some hummus … all of these add just a little bit of protein, but if you eat two or three snacks a day, it adds up.

So the next time someone asks …

You won’t have to tell them it’s complicated, or argue to no avail that broccoli would be a good protein source if only you could eat five pounds of it in a sitting. Instead, you can just explain that we don’t need all that much protein, and it’s easy to get what we do need from a half dozen, common foods, eaten just a little bit at a time throughout the day.

No big deal.

– See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/where-vegetarians-get-protein/#sthash.pmyeIT4h.dpuf

 

Drat – now I have published this, I doubt that I shall be able to ask for a £, although I bet people still ask!

 

What do you think?  Do you have concerns about your protein intake?

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – H is for Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg Root Parsley is somewhat of a unique ‘off-beat vegetable’. Although this wonderful white and green vegetable is not as common as other root veggies, parsley root is extremely delicious and deserves much more recognition than it gets

Very easy to grow, both the leaves and root are edible. Parsley Root Hamburg has edible large flat, parsley-like leaves but should not be confused with common curly parsley or Italian flat leaf parsley, as neither produce edible roots.

Parsley root is most commonly eaten cooked, as a delectable addition to stews or soups, or simply as chopped or cubed as a steamed side veggie, as you would other roots such as turnips, parsnips, and carrots. In fact, it’s an extremely versatile and exciting vegetable which can be sautéed, roasted, fried, or boiled for a distinctive and savoury accompaniment for any meal.

This charming vegetable is not only a delicious ingredient, it also come with a wonderful array or health benefits.

Parsley is a very rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, iron and folate. Apart from these, it contains a fair amount of other vitamins and minerals and is also very low in calories.

Parsley tea is a tasty tea with an acquired taste that is used as a remedy for various health problems. The herb was used in ancient Greek medicine and in Ayurveda, to treat flatulence, and dyspepsia.

 

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F is for FIBRE – Are you getting enough? Are you “going” enough???

150808-20140203Do you remember the F Plan Diet? I do. The book by British author Audrey Eyton became a huge best seller. Basically the diet suggested restricting calories whilst eating large amounts of fibre. It was also known by another “F” due to the Flatulence it caused! 

It’s almost 35 years since the F Plan hit the shelves and fibre is no longer the hot topic, it once was. Until a recent study that found that heart attack survivors were more likely to be alive. 9 years later if they had a high fibre intake. 
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The Harvard School of Public Health team analysed data from two large US studies involving more than 4,000 men and women who had survived a first heart attack and had provided information about their usual diet via questionnaires.

Interesting, huh? 

That got me thinking about how much dietary fibre most people eat. With my wholefood, plant-based diet I routinely consume more than the experts from US recommendation of 38g. In the UK the average consumption is 14g against a suggested intake of 18g. 

Fibre really does keep everything “moving” through your system. Fibre comes in two types – soluble and insoluble. Soluble slows the digestion and cause gasses. Insoluble fibre is what promotes “stool regularity”. Ok – sorry to talk about poo, but come on, be honest, do you go with ease and as regularly as you’d like? 

Fibre also makes you feel full. 

Should you worry about your fibre intake? Judging by what I see in some shopping baskets, possibly. If you eat a predominately plant based diet, you should have no need to be concerned about your fibre intake. 
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If you are eating whole grains, peas, beans, legumes plus plenty of vegetables and fruit, you should have no worries about your fibre intake. 

How can you tell if you are getting enough? For me, it’s the regularity with which I go. 

What’s your fibre intake like? 
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There are no “Silver Bullets” – It’s progress not perfection and dealing with the frustrations.

Here is a video blog entry about my experience and recent “low point” after 12 months of following a plant-based diet.

 

 

Please share your experiences by adding some comments or by joining the community.

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – G is for Garlic

 

As a child, I could eat onions of any kind.  At family events, I’d be the child eating the very hot crunchy pickled onions.  My father would steep raw onions in vinegar for us to have with salads on Sunday evenings.  I loved them.  In terms of garlic, I’d not tasted fresh garlic at home.  My Mum had a small plastic garlic clove with garlic salt in it.  I can remember being invited to dinner with my newly married brother and my sister-in-law where I tasted “real” garlic for the fist time at the age of 12.  OMG – I loved it, it was onion but to the max!

 

As I grew up I started to understand why it should be a staple part of my cooking.  Mainly used as a flavour enhancer, garlic also has other uses as well.

 

Not that many people know that garlic is actually native to the Central Asia, and it has been used quite a lot by the ancient Egyptians as well, for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Nowadays, we have 7 different types of garlic in Europe, and those are the Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras, Aglio Rosso di Nubia , Ail rose de Lautre, Ail de la Drôme, Aglio Bianco Polesano, Aglio di Voghiera and Ail blanc de Lomagne.

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Garlic can be cultivated all the year in mild climates all over the world, and this is especially true across Europe. Although garlic is not typically consumed in large amounts, it can provide your body  with lots of nutrients.

 

Garlic is a triple-whammy: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Garlic is one food that we all should be eating every day.

Researchers have found that allicin, a chemical found in garlic that gives it its flavour, could be used to fight cancer. It appears that the natural chemical reaction that forms allicin, which occurs when the garlic is eaten or smashed, may penetrate and kill tumour cells.

Several studies suggest that garlic has many beneficial effects on the heart. Garlic may:

  • Lower total cholesterol
  • Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help keep blood thin, reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke
  • Lower elevated serum levels of homocysteine, according to preliminary studies

Garlic also works like an antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body, and unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use.

Garlic can have a powerful antioxidant effect in the body, which means it helps to protect against damaging free radicals.

Garlic’s anti-fungal properties are excellent for reducing fungal infections, such as yeast infections.

People claim that people who eat garlic tend to get fewer bites from insects like ticks, according to research. It also likely applies to mosquitoes as well.  I’m not sure about that as I still seem to be seen as a healthy snack to any passing mosquito.

One problem with garlic, of course, is the smell, but if you have a good digestion that should not be a problem.  You can also chew a little parsley to reduce the smell.  Garlic is a herb, so if you do not like it or it makes you feel sick, this is your body’s way of telling you that you should avoid it.

Garlic will also improve your iron metabolism, thanks to the diallyl sulfides which help in the production of the ferroportin protein. It’s also a good source of selenium, because it gathers selenium from the soil while growing.

The largest garlic benefits are surely coming in the form of blood cell and blood vessel protection from various types of stress. What’s more, it also prevents the formation of clots inside blood vessels, something that is nothing short of amazing.

Alongside these wonderful benefits, garlic also includes numerous vitamins such as C or B6. It also helps your body integrate them quickly in the blood stream, making it more powerful and resistant to diseases as well.

The garlic we use every day in our meals doesn’t include that much carbohydrates. Instead, it’s full of inulin, a fiber that keeps the bacteria population in your intestines balanced, while also allowing your body to absorb more calcium.

  • Garlic is low in fat, and it has no cholesterol
  • It contains various elements that help your body absorb calcium, while also increasing your overall immunity
  • It’s rich in vitamins and minerals
  • It’s one of the few ingredients of a meal that give a wonderful flavour, and it also has a great effect on your overall health as well!

How much garlic do you eat?  What is your favourite way of eating it?

Quick tip – Peel a lot of garlic and freeze the cloves, you can purée them and add salt and oil (if you use it) or brine.

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Plant-based eating – Does it improve athletic performance?

Ok. So I am a sample of 1, but if my experiences are anything to go by, the answer is yes.

Yes – My athletic performance and recovery are both massively improved on a plant- based diet.

Ok – So I am not known for my athletic prowess, BUT….I have found that I do not ache after Personal Training Sessions.  My muscles recover quickly so I can train the next day.  Not bad for a (still) flabby 50 something.  My performance at my training sessions is stellar compared to what it was years ago.  Today i did 3 sets of 32kg bicep curls, I’d never have done that years ago.  I can work out so much better that before, training for longer and lifting heavier weights.

So, a sample of 1 – and not the most shining example of health and fitness yet, as I am still on my journey to improve my health.  So I asked others.  Here are a sample of what I had back as replies:

  • “Personally, I recover much faster. Most of our community will tell you the same. Plants are nurturing foods. :)” @VegRunChat
  • “for me that was the first benefit I noticed after becoming plant based, first of many” and “not a scientist but I think that a lot of plants are anti inflammatory as well as vitamin e aids in muscle recovery” @Bry_nFlynn 
  • “I find I recover faster which allows me to go longer & faster.. & lift heavier!” and “digesting massive amounts of animal protein takes days while the body quickly breaks down plants & absorbs their nutrients” @MeaganDunnCole

So then I started digging and found lots and lots of articles on how plant-based eating improves athletic performance.  One of the best, I have re-produced below.

This was written by @VegRunChat and the original article can be found here: http://vegrunchat.com/blog/5-benefits-of-running-plant-based/

Its a great site with lots of great info – check it out – http://vegrunchat.com/ but not before you read the article….

I went meat free about 3 weeks ago. I already notice that I have more energy, stamina, and I recover faster.” @Futurisa

I can run longer and faster with less fatigue since switching to a plant based diet.” @IRanWithRobert

These are a just a couple of the tweets making their way onto Twitter from plant-based runners who claim that a meat-free diet has remarkably improved their athletic performance.  It’s no surprise that, with books like Eat & Run, Finding Ultra, and the newly released No Meat Athleterunners have jumped on board a plant-based diet.  But what are the real benefits?  Is it all a bunch of hype?  Here are five ways that a plant-based diet can help boost your running career:

Less weight to carry – Eating a diet that excludes meat, eggs, cheese, and dairy will not only shed pounds, but keep the weight off.  Add running to the equation and you’ll have a body that’s perfectly sculpted, ready for any athletic challenge.  Many vegan runners (including Scott Jurek) claim that a plant-based diet has allowed them to become faster and use far less energy due to their decreased weight.  This is especially beneficial to those who run marathon (or greater) distances, as they can make better use of their energy stores.

Perfect Proteins – A plant-based diet provides runners with all of the nutrients that the body requires. Yes, even protein.  In fact, plants contain some of the most complete proteins around.  A complete protein contains each of the nine essential amino acids which we cannot live without (Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine).  Take hemp hearts and flax seeds for example; they contain all of the essential amino acid chains and contain 20 and 31 grams of protein per serving, respectively.  Furthermore, plant-based foods don’t contain artery-clogging saturated fats or cholesterol like animal-based sources of protein.

Increased bone density – Although the meat and dairy industry would love for us to believe that the secret to strong bones is milk, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, milk contains up to 300mg of calcium per cup.  But what the nutrition label doesn’t tell you is that our bodies hardly absorb this calcium, or make good use of it.  Milk (like all animal proteins) acidifies our bodies PH level which triggers a natural counter-reaction.  In an attempt to correct matters, our bodies pull calcium (which is a natural acid neutralizing element) from our bones.  The excreted calcium then leaves the body through urine, leaving us with a calcium deficiency.  On the other hand, plant foods with high levels of calcium (collards, kale and sweet potatoes) will boost bone health without affecting the body’s PH.

Energy Surge – Many runners claim that after switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet, their energy levels are restored to a level they haven’t experienced since childhood.  But why is this?  Simply put, plant-based foods contain all of the essential vitamins and nutrients we need to perform at our best.  Moreover, plant-based eaters appear to be more consciousness about other ingredients in their food.  Animal-free eaters typically omit foods that contain preservatives, additives, sweeteners, and other artificial ingredients.  Removing these ingredients from your diet enables your body to make the best use of your food.  Without these foreign ingredients, your body can process and digest foods easier, allowing for more energy to be used for better things – like running!

Faster Recovery – Plants are often referred to as nourishing foods.  This is because they do just that; nourish our bodies, replenishing lost vitamins and nutrients.  Most running pains which occur in the hips and joints are due to inflammation – the body’s normal protective response to an injury or infection.  But many plant foods contain anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate this pain and reduce inflammation.  So put that Aleve and Tylenol aside.  Use walnuts, garlic, turmeric, or fresh olives the next time you experience joint discomfort.  You will be back to running before you know it!

Are you still concerned about making the switch to a plant-based diet?  Worried it could impede your running?  You don’t have to make a full commitment to eating plants and go all-in at first.  Start out by making a few changes, and see how you feel.  You may be surprised to find that removing just meat and milk from your meals will promote faster recover and energy.  If you would like more information, I invite you to join us for#VegRunChat on Twitter Sunday nights at 9pm EST.  During the hour-long chat we discuss plant-based foods and how they relate to running performance.  You will find that it is extremely educational and fun.  We even give away prizes!

Have you ever considered going plant-based or vegetarian?  What has kept you from giving it a try?

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – F is for Fennel

I loved aniseed balls as a kid.  I used to go up to the shop at the far end of Mayes Lane buy a “quater” or 4 oz of them and devour them within minutes.   I could not get enough of that exotic aniseed flavour.  At college I drank Pernod, thinking myself rather sophisticated, (hardly) and have also sampled Raki, Arak and Ouzo on my travels.  I ended up with a pair of emerald earrings in Beirut after drinking Arak, but that’s a tale for another time!  Aniseed is a  flavour that I have always loved, hence my love of fennel as a vegetable.

Fennel (also known as Florence fennel or finocchio) is a delightfully crunchy and slightly sweet herb that has a bulb-like shape, making it look a little like a heavy-bottomed celery.

 

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It has not yet been spread and naturalized as an herb around the world, but still primarily grows in coastal climates and on riverbanks.

While this fantastically flavourful herb is most commonly associated with Italian cooking, it is actually an extremely versatile ingredient. In fact the bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible and delicious.

Any part can be chopped raw and added into your favourite salads. When eaten raw like this, the texture is crisp and the flavour is quite assertive and aniseed-like.  The leaves are delicately flavoured and similar in shape to those of dill. It truly is a delicious way to enhance the texture and flavour of a salad or coleslaw.

Cooked, it becomes much softer and has a more mellow flavour. The bulb makes an excellent addition to any mediterranean dishes. It’s also wonderful sautéed, stewed, braised or grilled. The leaves can also be used to liven up soups and sauces, or as a garnish.

Dried, fennel also makes for a sweet, calming tea, although that’s the one time, I am not keen on it.

Ideally choose the smaller, young bulbs, as they are more tender. They should look white, with no blemishes, and feel heavy for their size. The feathery green tops should be fresh and bright, with no yellowing.

Quick recipe tip – Pop some chopped fennel into an oven-proof dish, with some stock, cover and bake for 45 mins.  Simple and delicious.

As well as being a pungent delight for the taste buds and tasty addition to any meal, Fennel has a number of amazing health benefits, including anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

The same high concentration of essential oils in fennel that gives it the aromatic fragrance and flavour, makes it an effective potential cure for many mild to moderate ailments.

  •  Since fennel is rich in iron and histidine, it serves as a good natural remedy for anemia
  • Lactating mothers can consume fennel juice regularly to increase the secretion of nutritious milk for their infants
  • The high amounts of vitamin C, flavonoids and essential oils in fennel bulb all provide synergistic healing properties for the prevention of cancer*
  • The essential oils in fennel increases the secretion of digestive juices, helping in reduction of stomach inflammation and in the absorption of nutrients from the food eaten
  • The sulphur content together with all the right amino acids and essential oils in fennel help strengthen hair
  • The high potassium content in fennel helps reduce high blood pressure and thus decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke

*with regard to the potential benefits that Fennel has regarding cancer and weight-loss, see this article I just came across – http://www.naturalnews.com/044051_fennel_cancer_treatment_weight_loss.html

 

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Meatless Monday – what will you eat? Try it and tell me how you get on.

I’ve tweeted a lot about Meatless Mondays before. It is an initiative that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future.

This is an initiative that you hear a lot about in the US and is talked about a lot in the mainstream media. See Fox News article on the 5 benefits of Meatless Mondays –

better health – yes – even from one small change each week

live longer – decrease your risk of premature death by 19%

improved diet – through consumption of fibre which is only found in vegetables

save time and money – vegetables are economical and many dishes are simple and quick to prepare

For more details and the full article and references here:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/18/5-benefits-eating-less-meat/

It’s not a common practice in the UK, but I am keen to change that. I want more people to consider making a small change in their eating habits. Meatless or meatfree Mondays (as it is known in the UK) see: http://www.meatfreemondays.co.uk/ is one way of making that change.

For inspiration please take a look at the recipes on www.plantalicious.com as well as share your recipes in the recipe section of The Community on the website.

Please also comment on your meatless or meat free Monday meal choices.

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Cancer – Fighting Cancer with antioxidants, but from our food or a pill?

When I was a child no one spoke about cancer.  I can remember it really being a really taboo subject, more like “the disease that shall not be named”, or just referred to almost out of my hearing as “The Big C”.

Nowadays, you can’t open a newspaper or watch a news bulletin, without cancer being talked about. It touches us all, we all know somebody fighting cancer, being diagnosed with cancer and hopefully being a survivor of cancer.

One of the things that always intrigued me was the idea that antioxidants are really like little toy soldiers in our bodies.  Little warriors who go around fighting the good fight against the cancerous cells  developing in all of us. I recall going to one of those health screenings, paid for by my employer, where they used a small gun to measure the amount of antioxidants I had in my body.  At the time I had about 4 times the average level of antioxidants, as measured by this process. I can remember coming home and feeling rather smug about my very high antioxidant level!

What I hadn’t appreciated, was that I was getting my antioxidants out of a bottle in the form of tablets and pills. I.e. supplements. When I started studying plant-based nutrition. It became very obvious to me that this was not the best way for my body to be provided with the antioxidants that it needs. In supplement form the antioxidants are isolated and your body effectively says: “thanks a lot, but what the hell do you expect me to do with these?” What is your body supposed to do when it doesn’t have all of the other component parts that go with the antioxidant in nature, enabling it to use the  component to the best of your body’s abilities?

If you doubt what I’m saying and you are as fervently pro-popping antioxidant pills, as I once was.  Although, I doubt anybody spent as much money on supplements as me who took circa 35 pills a day!  I would suggest that you read the book – Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T Colin Campbell (http://www.amazon.com/Whole-Rethinking-Nutrition-Colin-Campbell/dp/1937856240 ) In the book, he explains, his approached nutrition as being rather like a symphony.  I like the analogy because it’s easy to understand that no one instrument in isolation can have the same effect as the entire orchestra playing together. I’m oversimplifying, but I hope you get my drift.

I came across this video today with some research cited by Michael Greger that shows how antioxidants taken as food in their whole natural state, rather than being extracted into a supplement is the best way of using these little warriors to fight cancer in our bodies.

You can find his video here: http://bit.ly/1fhx40f  it lasts a few minutes and is well worth a watch.

Reaching for that bottle of supplements or multivitamin, it might just be time to step back and think.  Ask yourself: “could I get the benefits of these pills from a wholefood source”? Put down the bottle step away, open fridge and make yourself a salad or better still a Plantalicious Recipe.   You’ll be glad you did, just as I was, not only will you be saving many hundreds of pounds a year, but it could just be that by taking these supplements in isolation you are doing yourself more harm than good.

I am not suggesting that by ingesting some antioxidant rich foods that we can suddenly make the world Cancer free.  What I am suggesting is that you give your body the best fuel you can to give it the best chance of healing itself.

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Carbohydrates – Why Do So Many People Believe That Carbohydrates Are Bad for Them?

The diet industry has convinced many that carbohydrates are bad for you. Thus, we’ve seen the introduction of many low carb or even no carb diets. But what the people who promote these diets aren’t telling you is that not having enough carbs in your diet can put a person’s body into a state of Ketosis. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketosis) So does that mean that low carb diets are dangerous? Is there a better way to diet for fitness or weight loss purposes? Read on to learn the truth about carbohydrates.

 

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Basically, low carb diets end up meaning high protein. How do most people, especially individuals who are interested in fitness, get that extra protein? Generally from meat, fish and diary, which typically means adding a lot of extra saturated fat and cholesterol to your diet as well. Some fish are high in saturated fat and fish contain cholesterol. Plant based diets, however, recommend getting your protein through beans, nuts, starches and grains like quinoa. You can also get a surprising amount of protein in the vegetables that you eat, such as broccoli. This is why Doctor Oz promoted a diet designed by T. Colin Campbell. It’s a plant based diet which allows an individual to still get plenty of protein, but without cutting out carbohydrates.

 

The real issue with carbohydrates is processed foods. Most people who eat a Western diet are getting their carbs from fast food or from other processed foods like convenience foods, microwavable meals and even bags of potato chips. By avoiding these types of foods and getting rid of processed sweets and replacing them with fruit, you can rid your diet of the unhealthy carbs without eliminating those necessary good carbs from your diet.

 

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The Starch Solution is another diet which has been developed by Dr. McDougall. This is another plant based diet.  People confuse plant based with vegan.  The two are not the same.  They share the fact that the followers do not consume meat, fish or dairy products, however vegans may eat processed and convenience foods.  The Starch Solution diet could be thought of as low protein because the diet focuses on using starches to fuel the body, although Dr McDougall points out that it is virtually impossible for someone to be protein deficient and there is protein even in the humble potato. Again, the secret is to have starches that have been minimally processed. Have lots of fruits and vegetables while cutting out the refined sugars. The result is an overall healthier feeling, more energy, and more alkaline blood. Remember that acidic blood is the best environment for cancer to grow. So plant based diets like this, even ones that are high in carbohydrates, are best for your overall well being.

 

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Yes, many diets that people try today are fads. That’s why so many people believe that carbohydrates are bad for them. The fact is that eating the right carbohydrates is better for you than eating a low carb diet filled with the wrong types of proteins that can contribute to heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and many other health problems. Rather than falling into the trap of believing the hype from fad diets, it is far better to eat a healthy plant based diet, the diet that human bodies are clearly meant for, and to enjoy carbohydrates along with a healthy program of regular exercise.

 

Additional Reading:

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/nutrition-plan-will-save-your-life

http://www.chewfo.com/diets/the-starch-solution-by-john-mcdougall-and-mary-mcdougall-2012-what-to-eat-and-foods-to-avoid-food-list/

http://www.drmcdougall.com/health/shopping/books/starch-solution/

 

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