Correlation Between Your Size and Your Health

Let’s be honest, no one wants to be fat. While the media tends to praise the bone thin, and bash the ones with more to love due to aesthetics, there are more important reasons why being overweight is considered bleak (click here for a lovely list put together by WebMD). On the list, one of the most preventable diseases due to obesity in my opinion is Type II Diabetes. I recently read an an interesting article titled Obesity Mediates the Association between Mediterranean Diet Consumption and Insulin Resistance and Inflammation in US Adults  published February 7th, 2017 in the Journal of Nutrition. It’s about how body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and consuming a Mediterranean diet mediate the markers of insulin resistance, a.k.a whether the fat around ones stomach or overall obesity paired with consuming a Mediterranean diet triggers insulin resistance or Diabetes Mellitus.

According to the American Diabetes Association, Type II Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. This disease is essentially the inability of ones body to take sugar (glucose) out of the blood stream due to defective insulin receptors. The diagram below is a representation of how muscle and/or fat cells take glucose from the blood. The pink portion of the cell represents the cell membrane. In a normal functioning muscle or fat cell, insulin (the purple triangles) bind to insulin receptors (the green things), which trigger the stimulation of downstream proteins (Glut-4 and Glucose transporters) to allow glucose (the light blue hexagons) to enter the cell to be metabolized and used for energy. type-2-diabetesIf insulin cannot bind to insulin receptors, then glucose will not be able to enter the cell, and consequently cause dangerously high levels of sugar to develop in the blood.

The research team who published the article mentioned above, understood that the Mediterranean diet (a diet composed of mainly consuming large quantities of fruits, vegetables, olive oils and whole grains, and smaller quantities of animal protein and unhealthy fats) has proven to lower cardiometabolic risk (a disease that essentially enhances the risk of diabetes due to insulin resistance) due to consequent weight loss. However, the team wanted to see if there is a direct link between insulin resistance and the amount of abdominal fat one has, or if insulin resistance is more-so modified or attenuated by general obesity, since, according to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, abdominal fat has been proven to affect metabolic disturbance more than general obesity.

So what did they do? I’m not going to bore you with every single little detail, but I think it’s important to understand how Park et al, derived their conclusion. Basically, they took data from 4700 US adults ranging from age 20-90 with no prior diagnosis of diseases such as cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The researchers had each participant log the types of foods they consumed during the study. A scoring method was used to assess the intensity of the individuals Mediterranean diet, scoring foods that pertained to the diet from 0-5, and negatively scoring foods that did not fit the diet. Potatoes were excluded from the study due to the variety of ways they can be prepared. Once each participant received a Med-Diet score, researchers measured each participants markers of insulin resistance i.e. glucose, insulin, glycated hemoglobin, fibrinogen, homocysteine, and lipoprotein a (definitions linked), and then used the statistical analysis software, SAS, to produce a linear regression curve. They compared the tertiles (any two points of an ordered distribution that split the graph into thirds) of the graph to draw conclusions.

What they found was interesting. They concluded that it was more-so the presence of abdominal adipose tissue that enhanced insulin resistance, a key characteristic in Diabetes Mellitus, opposed to overall BMI. This is because the adipose tissue in the abdominal region is expanded, and releases what are known as free fatty acids. According to PubMed, free fatty acids inhibit glucose intake from certain muscle cells, aka cause insulin resistance. Why is this relevant? Well because this finding adds to previously proven theories that cohesion to a Mediterranean diet improves ones health. The researchers also discuses previous findings explaining that those on a Mediterranean diet consume high amounts of healthy fats, high amounts of magnesium, and dietary fiber, which all positively effect the way our bodies metabolise glucose. Also, according to the American Journal of Medicine, it is clinically proven that a Mediterranean diet helps you lose weight.

I think it’s time to open our eyes, and realize that this isn’t a theory or some far fetched idea. It has been scientifically proven that consuming fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and whole grains is beneficial to your health, and can even help prevent a disease that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 29 million people in America have. Sounds a lot like a vegan diet can have similar benefits doesn’t it?

 

 

*For copywriter purposes, I do not own the “Featured Image” for this article. It is from the link provided.

Food for Thought: What is healthy?

When it comes to nutrition, I prefer to discuss facts, and I enjoy the excitement I feel cultivating inside of me when I read a scientific article about how some scientist somewhere discovered that eating meat gives you cancer. No, I don’t enjoy reading these things because I’m a crazy vegan and I’m thrilled that meat gives you cancer. I’m simply intrigued by findings such as these because they depict advancements in nutritional research. They exemplify the hope in finding ways in which to prevent the terminal illnesses that thrive amongst us from taking our loved ones, and they prove the potential of cultivating cures for those who are already infected. Needless to say, science is awesome.

However, as I sit here in my living room, I begin to ponder about what defines health, and if data from a group of participants in a ten year study, or numbers on a graph can disclose the means necessary to live a long, happy and healthy life. Yes, thanks to science there are now activities such as eating a lot of red meat or smoking that are known to cause insalubrious health. Nevertheless, I want to look beyond the generalities for a moment and consider the needs of the individual. After all, people are different, and may consequently need different things in order to live healthy lives.

Is there more to the health recipe than the chef wrote? Is there a secret ingredient; a large factor contributing to our health that many of us often overlook? Perhaps there is something that may aid in answering the dire question of what optimal health actually is, and how to attain it. I realize that the answer to that question may be so far beyond our reach that only individuals decades from now will be able to answer it. Then again, maybe our ancestors were on the right track with ancient practices that time and technology have seemed to neglect. While we may never be able to find a direct answer, I believe that we must consider the teachings of the ancient practice of yoga.

I am a certified yoga instructor, and while I was undergoing my teacher training, I learned about the different aspects of self according to Hinduism. One of those aspects is known as Satya, which is simply non-falsehood. This is different from truthfulness. It is simple to be truthful. For example if I ask you what the weather is like outside you can say that it is sunny. When I think that it is sunny outside, I automatically think of a warm summer day, but what if it’s cold out? You did not lie by telling me that it was sunny outside, but you neglected to tell me that it was also cold out. If you tell me that it is cold and sunny outside that would be considered Satya because you are telling me the whole truth about the situation.

Now how does this relate to food and your body? Well, if you haven’t already figured this out, the purpose of consuming food is to provide your body with energy. If you ever consume something that makes you tired, or causes you to take a nap (and you’re beyond infancy), chances are your body does not need it. Food is supposed to feel clean, it should not cause stomach pain or indigestion. Food is not meant to make you obese (take a look in the mirror). Most importantly, plant based foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits are composed of a non soluble fiber known as cellulose. Due to the human body’s inability to break down cellulose and use it for energy, it is excreted. Animal based foods are not so easily excreted because your body can break down the components of these foods and store them as energy (fat). Essentially what I’m getting at here is ask yourself: Do you poop enough? Do you poop too much? This may indicate that you may be allergic to something you regularly consume. Do you ever feel guilty after eating something that’s considered to be bad for you? So why did you do it? Because you’re not tuned in enough with your own body when you reach for that pack of Oreos to tell yourself (and actually believe) that you don’t need them.

All of these things contribute to overall health and well being. By implementing a simple yoga practice at least twice a week, meditating, or simply taking a few conscious breaths throughout the day you can become more aware of your internal needs. When we become more aware of our internal needs we can become honest with ourselves, and practice satya to help make better decisions throughout our day. Now this concept doesn’t only relate to food, it can relate to anything you experience in your life. Begin to take conscious breaths at home, at the workplace, around friends, while you’re shopping, or anywhere where you need to make a decision about something that will either enhance your life or degrade it.

My logic may not be a straight forward answer to what health is, nor is it a concept or practice that will make you super skinny in three days (if you presume that getting skinny = healthy), but I think it is worth a shot. If we can understand our needs, then we can be honest with ourselves, and only bring factors into our lives that enhance them. If we fail to be conscious, we wander around like zombies stuck in a rut unable to fulfill the needs of their bodies. Correct me if I’m wrong, but living an unconscious life doesn’t exactly sound like the epitome of health to me.

What are Antioxidants?

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Which of the two images look more appetizing? If you chose the image with the burger held by a hand, it’s probably due to its vibrant coloring, and detail. Have you ever thought about why fruits and vegetables are so colorful? Probably not. Well, it just so happens that there is a scientifically sound story as to why these superfoods are so vibrant, and ironically enough, it all has something to do with why we consume them.

You see, fruits and vegetables are filled with these things called antioxidants, which are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their appetizing colors. It’s safe to say that you’ve heard it at least once in your lifetime that you need to consume antioxidants, or that antioxidants keep you healthy, right? But have you ever wondered why? What exactly are antioxidants? Let me break it down for you.

What are antioxidants?

According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of the infamous China Study, antioxidants are chemicals that exist solely in plants. (They only exist in animal-based foods to the extent that animals eat such plants and store the antioxidants in their tissues. Animals do not naturally produce antioxidants.) Anyway, when a plant absorbs light energy it converts this light energy into usable energy or food via photosynthesis, which is simply the process by which electrons bounce from molecule to molecule inside of the plant’s leaf.

Dr. Campbell claims that this process however, is highly complex, and must be managed very carefully. If these electrons stray from their rightful paths, they can wreak havoc in the plant and cause large amounts of damage, similar to the way high amounts of radiation can cause DNA damage in humans. These electrons that essentially sway away from their rightful paths are known as free radicals. However, plants take care of these horrible free radicals by using their antioxidants to form a shield around them, and intercept them so they do not cause damage to the plant tissue. That is why fruits and vegetables have such vibrant colors, because the chemical properties responsible for doing away with nasty free radicals are the same chemical properties responsible for absorbing visible light. That is also why humans are drawn to colorful foods that are aesthetically pleasing in nature, and deem them as appetizing because subconsciously, through human nature, our bodies understand the necessity for consuming such foods.

According to Research Gate however, there is an issue. If the ratio of free radicals to antioxidants is too great, the plants cells will die due to its inability to intercept and scavenge free radicals that cause the plant damage. Below is a diagram from Research Gate  exemplifying the process by which plants detoxify themselves with free radicals. The right side portrays potential cell death. ROS simply stands for Reactive Oxygen Species or free radicals.

fig-14-antioxidants-and-redox-signaling-in-plants

How do antioxidants benefit humans?

Wonderful! Plants have the ability to save themselves. So why do we care? Well, it just so happens that throughout our lifetime we naturally create low levels of free radicals in our bodies, causing our bodied to become rigid and stiff. This is essentially what aging is. With poor diet and little to no exercise, free radicals can cause hardening of arteries, cataracts, arthritis, and many other downfalls of aging.To make matters worse, due to the fact that humans do not carry out photosynthesis, they do not create the antioxidants necessary to combat the effects of free radicals.

However, there is good news. The way antioxidants work miracles in plants, is similar to the way they work in animals. In order to rid our bodies of these nasty chemicals, we must consume antioxidants. Some antioxidants take form in what are known as carotenoids, such as betacarotene or lycopene which exist in red, orange and yellow colored fruits and vegetables. Other antioxidants are colorless and exist as vitamin E and vitamin C.

Further research regarding antioxidants has suggested that low levels of antioxidant consumption can lead to the formation of diseases such as cancer. (To find out more, read the China Study by T. Colin Campbell, or view his webpage for scientific evidence on why living a plant based life is beneficial).

The take away message from all of this? You’re parents were right when they scolded you about eating your vegetables. After all, mom always knows what’s best. Fill your body with vibrant colors, fruits and vegetables. Who knows, one day it may even save you from acquiring an illness, or it may even elongate your life. Fill your plate with fresh produce, it will only be the veganing.

Also, below are some charts exemplifying antioxidant rich foods to help kickstart your new plant based lifestyle. Enjoy:)

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 (Image via pinterest.com)

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(Image via Whatishealthfood.net)

antioxidants-rich-foods

(Image via lethal.com)

What is a Vegan?

What is a vegan?

Just the Veganing believes that being a vegan is not about accepting a label; it’s about caring about your body, as well as caring about the environment. That being said, there are different types of vegans. Some vegans don’t eat anything from an animal, but still own leather handbags, jackets and shoes. Some vegans are considered raw vegans, meaning that they do not consume anything from an animal and they do not cook the foods they eat above 100 degrees, if at all. Some vegans chose the lifestyle for the animals, some chose it for themselves. Neither is better or worse or good nor bad, they’re just different. That is why it is unfair to place a label on someone who is considered a vegan. A vegan is simply someone who doesn’t consume anything from an animal. That’s it. They’re not freaky weird hippies, or overly environmentally conscious tree huggers. Personally, I am not one of those vegans that forces their beliefs upon others or judges people for the way they live their life. However, I have found that I love to share nutritional advice, and discuss issues related to food in today’s society. That does not necessarily mean I only talk about why meat is so bad for you or why you shouldn’t harm animals. I’m simply here to talk about nutrition as a whole, and while my beliefs may sway toward veganism, I believe it is important to share the cold hard facts about what is actually in your food.

How do I “go vegan”?

When I first became a vegan, I had no clue where to start. I began to think it was going to be impossible to survive. No meat? No dairy? No eggs? NO CHEESE?! What do I eat? We live in a world where meat is the centerpiece of every meal. We created fixings or side dishes composed of vegetables, starches and whole grains, ignoring the fact that all of these dishes offer us ample nutrition, and proceeded to only focus on the animal as the center of it all. Consider this: What if there was no such thing as Turkey? Would you still be able to have a Thanksgiving meal? Hmm lets see, you would have corn, cream of spinach, salads, green beans, cranberry sauce, potatoes, stuffing, and many other delectable vegetable based side dishes filled with vitamins and nutrients your body needs to survive. So the answer is yes. You could very well survive. Not only would you survive, but you would be thriving, and your body would be incredibly happy with what was inside it. I thought of this scenario when I first became a vegan and I realized that it wasn’t only possible to become a vegan, but it was the best thing I could do for my body. All it took was a little change in perspective.

My journey

Since I have become a vegan, I have read numerous books, scientific articles, vegan food blogs, and nutritional websites related to not only veganism, but to overall wellness. I will reference these books and such in the future. In the midst of acquiring my bachelors degree in biology, I have learned so much about the human body and nutrition that it has become a passion of mine, and I cannot wait to share it with all of you. I’ve also found that it is quite hard to be vegan in foreign countries, therefore, I have decided to add a blog page about how to eat vegan in places all around the globe.

I have found a hard time finding websites and blogs that focus on nutritional research, reasons for becoming vegan, easy vegan food recipes, tips on being a vegan, and just overall factual evidence about food in general. That is what compelled me to write this blog. I love fashion, I love to travel, I love to exercise ( I actually went through a gym rat phase where I consumed way too much protein and BCAA’s and all that) I love adventuring and the environment, I love sports, I teach yoga, I love science, I love having a good time with my friends and right now I love being in college. Most importantly I LOVE FOOD. There was a time when I did consume meat and dairy. I wasn’t born a vegan people. I come from a Hungarian family, and if there is one thing to say about Hungarian’s it’s that they love their meat. So take everything with a grain of salt, as I did years ago when I began my journey. Don’t get offended if I say something bad about meat, or if I say something bad about certain vegetables. When it comes to food, I am here solely to present factual evidence, and to discuss my opinions based on the facts.

One more thing, becoming a vegan has made me the happiest and the healthiest I’ve ever been. This is for all of you out there who are looking for something to jumpstart a healthier, happier lifestyle! Enjoy 🙂

The Good, The Bad, The Cholesterol

What many of those who consume animal products do not understand is that just because a piece of rotting flesh in the grocery store is labeled as “organic”, “free-range”, “antibiotic free”, “hormone free”, or “USDA approved”, doesn’t necessarily indicate that it is healthy. Consumers often overlook or simply neglect to understand how animal products are digested, and what the human body actually absorbs during the process. While the cascade of events during digestion aren’t exactly enticing, and I’d rather not put you to sleep, I find it absolutely necessary to understand cholesterol, and the truth behind its role in our bodies.

I’m sure at one point or another you’ve heard that having high cholesterol is bad, but what  is cholesterol? Where does it come from? Why is it bad? According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, cholesterol is simply a waxy substance that is found in the lipid bilayer of all cell membranes.

cell_basic_partsHere is a quick little science lesson for all of you: To the left is an image of a cell. You have tons of cells in your body, and the outside layer of a cell is called a cell membrane or lipid bilayer. Cholesterol is imbedded in the lipid bilayer, and it allows the cell to be fluid, as seen in the image below. cell20membrane20with20cholesterolBasically, cholesterol helps your cells produce membranes, hormones and Vitamin D, and is therefore vital for survival. There are two different kinds of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), and low density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is the bad kind of cholesterol because it is mostly composed of fat, hence the term low density lipoprotein. (low amount of protein, more fat) Get it? According to WebMD, since fat is sticky, when this type of cholesterol moves through the blood stream it can stick to the sides of your arteries. This action can be fatal as it can cause arteries to completely clog up, allowing absolutely no blood to pass through and get to where it needs to go. On the other hand, HDL is considered to be good cholesterol because it is composed of a higher amount of protein and a lower amount of fat, hence the term high density lipoprotein.

So why do we care? Well, as I mentioned before high levels of bad cholesterol can be fatal, especially when combined with smoking, high transfat intake and vitamin C deficiency. All cholesterol consumed comes solely from animal products. That’s right, plants have absolutely no cholesterol. I know what you’re thinking: How am I going to get enough cholesterol if I don’t consume any animal products? Don’t worry there is good news. Believe it or not, your body makes ALL of the cholesterol it will ever need, therefore, there is no need to consume any extra. If you consume a little extra here and there, your liver will get rid of it, but a high intake of cholesterol filled foods can lead to serious health implications such as heart failure, obesity, diabetes and even cancer.

I understand that reading things such as this blog post often send people into panic mode about their health, similar to the way FOOD INC. or Cowspiracy convinces people daily to save the planet by no longer consuming animals. (if you’d like to check out these awesome documentaries by the way click the links) However, there is hope when it comes to saving your health. What many people don’t understand is that your body will stop at nothing to protect you. It is an extremely powerful and well designed machine that when fed the proper fuel will work its hardest to purify itself. It is never to late to change your life around.

Think you may need to lower your cholesterol? According to HealthAliciousNess, foods rich in monounsaturated fat are the most efficient in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Some examples include, garlic, avocados, olives, peanuts, extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds and walnuts. I will be posting a recipe incorporating chia seeds very soon.

With everything I write, please take the time to understand that I am not trying to make you feel bad about eating meat or dairy products. I am simply sharing my ideas, and some facts that I’ve come across about healthy diets. Take everything with a grain of salt, and take a moment to decide whether the lifestyle you are currently living is truly healthy. If not, try something new. It will only be the veganing.

 

Mo Meat, Mo Problems (Pink Slime)

My go to meal as a kid was always a hamburger and fries. Who doesn’t love a nice juicy burger with a side of crisp deep fried potatoes? The above picture looks good right? It’s vegan.

Have you ever considered why you like burgers so much? Is it really the meat itself, or is it more so the crisp red onion, the seasoning, the juicy tomato, the  sharp cheese or the crunchy lettuce? What about the ketchup, mayo or mustard so many of us drown our burgers in? Or the Mac sauce on a delicious Big Mac, is it that? Having thought about it, you can’t actually sit here and argue that the meat is the major component of a burger. What if there was scientific evidence that suggested that this meat was no longer considered good for you?

I know, I know, everyone absolutely hates to read the sentence: What if there was scientific evidence that suggested that this meat was no longer considered good for you? For the majority of many of our lives meat is considered the centerpiece of each meal. Some may argue that you cannot have a meal without some sort of meat on the plate. The issue with that kind of thinking is that many people tend to neglect plant protein, and think that if there isn’t a dead carcass rotting on the plate, that there is no meal to be had. There are two kinds of protein in this world: animal protein and plant protein, however plant protein just happens to be a bit better for you. (If you want to learn more about the harms of animal protein you can find it in my Protein and Cancer  post). While various forms of meat cause health implications, let’s just focus on the health implications of burger meat, and what is actually in the everyday burger.

Have you ever heard of pink slime? Pink sludge maybe? According to the online journal Omics International, pink slime is a meat based food additive composed of animal tendons and cartilage all mushed up that is treated in ammonia gas to kill bacteria. Ever heard of what Ammonia gas can do to humans? According to the New York State Department of Health, “Ammonia interacts immediately upon contact with available moisture in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, respiratory tract, and particularly mucous surfaces to form the very caustic ammonium hydroxide” (NYSDH). Ammonium hydroxide causes implications that lead to cellular destruction. “As cell proteins break down, water is extracted, resulting in an inflammatory response that causes further damage”(NYSDH).  Basically, ammonia gas exposure + meat = ammonia hydroxide = cellular damage = further implications. Let me make it more clear: This stuff is NOT GOOD FOR YOU!

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Where do you find pink slime you ask? Burger meat. You may have heard that this slime is popular in low quality burger meats, in burgers from fast food chains, and in burger meats that are inorganic. However, according to the documentary Food Inc. pink slime is found in 70% of the burger meat produced in the USA. So, if you think that you’re getting away from this awful sludge by buying ground beef from your local grocery store chances are that the burger meat you are buying is no less infested with pink slime than the fast food burger meat you just had for lunch. But don’t just take my word for how horrible this stuff is for you, see it for yourself by clicking the following link for a short clip from Food Inc.

Next time you’re at your local supermarket staring at the ground meat, pondering on whether or not you should consume loads of fat and pink sludge, I suggest you take a trip down the healthy frozen food isle. One of my personal favorite meat alternatives is Beyond Beef, you should give it a try. (You can also order Beyond Beef products online if for some reason your local grocer doesn’t carry it). If for some reason you don’t believe that you can receive enough protein and iron from plant based products take a look at this little chart put together by Beyond Beefbeyond

Like I’ve said before, I’m not into bashing meat products, but facts are facts. You cannot sit here and honestly say that you want to consume harmful chemicals, that you wish to raise your bad cholesterol levels and that you wish to consume ample amounts of hormones and GMO’s. Eat things that you know for a fact are free of harmful additives. Eat clean. Eat naturally. Live well. Try something new, it will only be the veganing.

 

Nature Potentially Cures Cancer: The Blushwood Berry and EBC-46

What are some of the things that come to mind when you think of cancer treatments? Perhaps you envision some sort of chemotherapy treatment, or a bottle of expensive pills used to target specific genetic mutations that may have caused the horrid disease to develop. While these treatments have been proven to save some of cancers victims, research suggests that there is a natural cure that deems promising in curing cancer.

Introducing the berry from a Blushwood tree. Blushwood trees are located in the North Queensland rainforest in Australia and they contain a chemical known as EBC-46. According to professor Peter Parsons researcher at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, this miracle EBC-46 has the ability to haemorrhage the tumor causing bruising around the afflicted area and then after a few days, the tumor essentially dies.

How does this fruit do this you ask? Well let’s take a look at a simplified version of what’s really going on here.

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The above image is a representation of the chemical EBC-46, which is derived from the blushwood berry. When cancer forms, your body has ways of trying to stop it from further developing. The four regulators are known as proto-oncogenes (which when mutated are known as oncogenes), tumor suppressor genes, apoptosis, and telomerase genes. When there is a mutation in each of the genes, cancer can develop. Once cancer develops it continues to grow and divide and turn into a tumor. For a tumor to develop it essentially needs something supplying it with blood and nutrients so that it can continue to grow. One player in the game of supplying the tumor with blood is a protein kinase known as Protein kinase C. A protein kinase is simply a molecule that regulates numerous cellular responses including gene expression, protein secretion, cell proliferation, and the inflammatory response. According to researchers at Harvard University, EBC-46 has the ability to target protein kinase C and inhibit it, which in turn causes the tumor to die because it is no longer has the ability to synthesize proteins it needs to survive. According to the Queensland Institute, the inhibition of  protein kinase C helps destroy the blood vessels that supply the tumor with the oxygen and the nutrients it would need for survival. Pretty exciting stuff right?

So how is it that we know that the inhibition of protein kinase C helps kill tumors? Well, as it turns out, there has actually been research done on the inhibition of protein kinase C in the past. There was a drug developed known as PMA, which inhibited protein kinase C. However, according to PubMed, in clinical trials the drug was causing severe side effects, and was therefore not beneficial. (More information about PMA here).

While the previous drug developed caused severe side effects, there is hope when it comes to this new comer EBC-46. According to Dr. Glen Boyle, a researcher at the Queensland Institute the new drug developed from EBC-46 has been injected into several melanoma models such as head, neck and colon models and has caused rapid breakdown of the tumors present. EBC-46 has also been injected into several cats, dogs and horses, and has decreased the size of, if not completely destroyed the tumors.

The drug is still being developed, and has more recently been tested in patients. It has yielded impressive results. A woman in Australlia potentially facing amputation participated in the study and claimed that after only 20 minutes after injection of EBC-46 the tumor began changing color, and then after a few days the tumor “shriveled up and died”. (Check out the video here).

So there you have it, science and nature working hand in hand to potentially produce answers to questions about curing cancer that we have been asking for over 30 years now. For now, the takeaway message for all of you is remember to eat your fruits and veggies, especially your berries. It could potentially save your life, and that will only be the veganing.

Protein and Cancer

What would cross your mind if someone said to you that there is evidence suggesting a linkage between the formation of cancer and the amount of protein you consume. Would you get scared? Would you stop consuming protein? Would you believe it? For the majority of our lives, most of us have been told that it is necessary to consume ample amounts of protein. While protein is necessary in maintaing a healthy balanced diet, there has been research conducted that suggests that different types of proteins have different effects on the body. This research suggests that there are such things as good proteins, and bad proteins.

The human body is composed of various proteins that carry out various functions. According to WebMD, proteins make up hair, skin and nails. Proteins are used to make enzymes, hormones, body chemicals and are also building blocks for bones, muscles and blood. Essentially, proteins are necessary for maintaining life.

However, have you ever considered how much protein you consume in one day? Have you ever though about what kinds of protein you are consuming? Do you presume that the types of proteins you consume have anything to do with your over well-being? Is there such thing as too much protein? Could the quantity and quality of protein you consume inevitably promote a certain disease in your body; a certain type of cancer perhaps?

Unfortunately friends, according to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, evidence derived from multiple studies he conducted suggest that there is a link between protein consumption and the development of cancer. He conveys this information to the public in The China Study. 

To truly understand what Dr. Campbell did, you must first understand the stages of cancer development. It’s not like you wake up one morning and you have a full blown tumor, there are several different stages in cancer development.

Stage 1 Initiation: Different kinds of cancers are caused by a variety of different things such as genetics or high exposure to carcinogens. The research Dr. Campbell conducted had to do more-so with carcinogens than it did with genetics, so I’m going to focus on explaining carcinogens. Carcinogens are toxins that are present in everyday life such as BPA in plastic. While these toxins may ultimately cause tumor formation, they must first be turned on or activated by an enzyme in your cell, which is a process that isn’t very common. In other words, these toxins do not always get metabolized by enzymes. We are exposed to so many different toxins on a day to day basis, it’s a good thing that our bodies work this way because if they didn’t, a lot more of us would develop cancer at a rapid rate. Anyway, so this toxin is essentially activated in our cells right? This activation makes it able to attack and bind to our DNA. Once it binds, it damages the DNA and when these cells are replicated, they replicate with the same damaged DNA. This means that you now have more “bad” cells, which continue to divide and divide until you have a cluster of cancerous cells.  Below is a diagram straight from The China Study explaining cancer initiation. The AF or alfatoxin represents the toxin or carcinogen Dr. Campbell used in his experiments.  screenshot2012-03-11at1-38-55pm

When Dr. Campbell initially began his work, he wanted to discover if the amount of protein consumed had an effect on cancer initiation. He studied the effects protein had on alfatoxin, which is a carcinogen that effects liver cancer. He did his research using mice. One group of mice was fed 5% protein and the other group was fed 20% protein and what he found was astonishing. He found that low protein(5%) consumption led to a 76% decrease in the alfatoxin enzyme activity, less alfatoxin entered the cell, less alfatoxin bound to DNA, and cells multiplied more slowly! In other words, the enzyme which would normally allow alfatoxin to bind to the DNA in cells was 76% less efficient! Hello people!! This decrease in protein consumption suggests that consuming less protein stops cancer initiation significantly!!!

I know, I know. What I just told you only refers to cancer initiation. So your next question might be something like, what if you already have cancer? Could the amount of protein you consume have anything to do with tumor development once cancer is already initiated? The answer according to Dr. Campbell is yes! Before I tell you how, let’s first understand stage two of cancer; promotion.

Stage 2: Promotion: Promotion is essentially the development of a tumor. This process can take up to several years to occur in humans. Right after initiation, microscopic cell clusters form on the outside of the cell. These little cells are known as foci, and they will eventually become tumor cells. In order for a tumor to grow, the cancerous cells need promoters. Promoters are dietary factors that essentially promote growth. There are also things known as anti-promoters that prevent the cell from growing. If you have more promoters than anti-promoters you have cancer. If the proper needs of a cancer cell are not met, they will not grow. So let’s think of some promoters. What do you think cancer likes? Things like junk food, cigarettes, and chemicals? You got it! However, if you give cancer cells whole grains, fruits, veggies, vitamins and minerals, they will not grow because these are considered anti-promoters.

So Dr. Campbell wanted to know if the amount of protein consumed during promotion had anything to do with tumor growth, or foci formation (since the foci are the tiny little cells that will eventually become the tumor. Remember?) Once again he fed one group of mice 5% protein and one group 20% protein and he found that foci development was three times higher in the mice that consumed 20% protein! He then thought, okay, well what if one group of mice is exposed to more alfatoxin than another group? Surely that must have something to do with foci development right? WRONG. He dosed one group of mice with a high amount of alfatoxin and fed them 5% protein. He dosed the other group of mice with low alfatoxin and fed them 20% protein. Guess which group saw a larger increase in foci development? The group that was dosed with lower alfatoxin, but fed 20% protein saw an increase in foci development nine times that of the other group. NINE TIMES! Do you know what this means people?! This insinuates that foci development is entirely dependent on how much protein is consumed! Is anyone as excited about this as I am?

There you have it, evidence that suggests that high levels of protein lead to cancer initiation and development. Surely it cannot be all protein though right? Right! Dr. Campbell used casein in his experiments. For those of you who are unfamiliar with casein, casein is protein derived from milk. It comes from cows. It is animal protein. Dr. Campbell conducted the same studies using gluten (the protein from plants) and found that there was only a 1% increase in foci development, and that gluten did not promote cancer initiation what-so-ever. In certain cases, he found that plant protein stopped the growth of tumors, and even reversed the growth of tumors! (ARE YOU SERIOUS?!)

Essentially, the take away message from all of this is: animal protein, especially in high amounts is suggested to be carcinogenic, while plant protein is not. Animal protein = bad. Plant protein = good. Any questions?

Actually, I have a rhetorical question for all of you; a take-away message if you will. If this is so abundantly clear, why don’t more people know about this? Why is this not common knowledge? Why is this not taught in schools? I mean after-all, it was scientifically proven. It isn’t just some theory. A large group of people, especially those in the scientific community must know about this right? This study wasn’t published yesterday either, it was published in 2006. That’s ten years ago! What about people that are in charge of discovering cancer treatments? Do they know? Does the government know? They must, right? They funded the research didn’t they? Do the people in charge of regulating the school food system know? If they do, why are they pushing milk on students when milk protein is casein? Is there more to all of this than we think?

 

 

 

Vegans and Amino Acids

Being that I’ve been vegan for quite some time now, I often forget what it’s like for all of the new vegans out there. Becoming a vegan is hard, especially when you don’t take the vegetarian route for a few years and jump straight from being a full fledged carnivore to a vegan. It is enlightening however, when one goes from believing that meat is the center piece of every meal, to understanding that there are many other options available for consumption. If one has a veracious appetite for the how to’s of veganism, they learn after a short while that it is the healthiest thing they can do for their body. Sounds great doesn’t it? So, where does one begin you ask? While there are many places to start and many things to learn when it comes to veganism, I have found that one of the most popular questions amongst non vegans is: Where do I get my essential amino acids from?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. I don’t know about you, but when I turn my science-y brain off, I automatically think of a huge hunk of steak when I think of the word protein. Protein is more than just meat. Proteins are tiny little molecules inside of the human body that carry out various functions. For example, proteins can act as enzymes that break things down or build things up. They can also act as transport molecules or antibodies. Essentially proteins make us work right. Essential amino acids, as you could have guessed, are a group of twenty amino acids that our bodies need to function properly. Here’s a list of all of the amino acids your body needs:

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So now that you know that you absolutely need amino acids to function, you may be wondering where you get these amazing little building blocks for proteins from. If you’ve ever taken part in a basic nutrition or health class, you may have been told that you get amino acids from: meat, eggs and dairy. I’m currently learning a lot about amino acids and their importance in my biochemistry class. I have a very strong willed professor that argues that meat, eggs and dairy products are the greatest sources of amino acids. I’m not denying for a second that meat, eggs and dairy contain an ample amount of amino acids, because they do. However, I am going to deny that they are the greatest things you can consume in order to receive adequate nutrition.

There are many reasons why the consumption of meat isn’t the best. All of these reasons are derived from scientific research. In an attempt not to bore you to death, I’m only going to mention a few reasons why animal products aren’t the best. As this webpage grows, I will be sharing more factual evidence, but for now here’s what I found out:

According to Daniel Pendick, it is scientifically proven by researchers at Harvard University that the consumption of red meat is directly linked to atherosclerosis due to an abundance of a bacteria known as L-carnitine.  This is the disease process that leads to clogged arteries. What’s also interesting is that red meat is considered a great source of essential amino acids. Another wonderful source of essential amino acids are eggs. According to the Huffington Post eggs also contain “90 percent of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid and B12 of the egg. In addition the yolk contains all of the fat-soluble components, such as vitamins A, D and E, not to mention the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.”- John Berardi Ph.D So yes, eggs contain everything you need, but they also contain cholesterol, and lots of it. Cholesterol is necessary for the body, however, your body produces all the cholesterol you will ever need. Therefore, there is no need to consume more of it. According to WebMD high cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries, stroke and heart attack. If you have diabetes, putting yourself at risk of acquiring one of these diseases increases dramatically.

Out of the twenty amino acids, there are eleven of them that are indispensable, meaning that our bodies do not make them naturally, and we therefore must to consume them. Here’s a chart from Whfoods categorizing the indispensable amino acids:

Chart for Organizing Amino Acid Food Choices

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) Sulfur-containing amino acids (SAAs) Aromatic amino acids Other indispensable amino acids
Isoleucine Methionine Histidine Lysine
Leucine Cysteine* Phenylalanine Threonine
Valine Tyrosine*
Tryptophan

 

According to Whfoods, there are plenty of foods you can consume to receive all of the amino acids you need on a day to day basis. Below is the vegan version of the list of foods Whfoods compiled for the consumption essential amino acids.

Let’s start with branch-chain amino acids or BCAA’s. These amino acids occur most commonly in soy foods or sea vegetables such as seaweed, nori or kelp.

Sulfur-containing amino acids or SAA’s are sometimes based on how much methionine and cystine one consumes, or sometimes just on how much methionine one consumes because methionine can be converted into cystine in the body.  Regardless, SAA’s can be derived from a 2 ounce serving of seeds, nuts, legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.), garlic, onions, leeks, broccoli and brussel sprouts.

Aromatic amino acids are important in proper nervous system function. You can get these essential amino acids from nuts and seeds, whole grains, most vegetables, and in just one cup of beans or four ounces of tofu you consume 100% of your daily aromatic amino acids.

Last, but simply not least we have the other indispensable amino acids lysine and threonine. Lysine is important in genetic metabolism and cell signaling, while threonine is also important in cell signaling. To acquire these essentials you can consume legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds and most vegetables.

Do we see a pattern here folks? Legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, soy products and whole grains. Throw in some fruit, and I think you’re all set. Not only are these foods packed with amino acids, but they are also filled with vitamins and minerals that will keep you extremely healthy. Here is proof that you can be 100% healthy, without ever consuming a single animal product. The best part is that you can eat way more of these things than you could meat because they consist of healthy fats, good carbs, and no cholesterol. You can eat more and weigh less, but that’s a topic for another blog. Being a vegan is not impossible. You just have to give it a try. It will only be the veganing.

 

 

 

Title Image source: Googleimages/vegetables/search

Survival of the Vegan-ist

So, like, what do you eat? 

I cannot tell you how many times a day I am asked that question, and how many times my response is: celery. You wouldn’t believe how many people actually believe it! Okay, I’m lying a little, I used to respond to people that way. It was only because I didn’t understand how people could be so unaware of the types of foods I was consuming. I’m a vegan, I don’t eat anything from an animal, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds of other options available. On a large scale, meat and dairy products are a small portion of the vast variety of foods on this earth. That brought my awareness to nutrition, and what the average person considers to be nutritious.What does the average American consume on a day to day basis? What do we as a society consider healthy?

I began to think back to my days in grade school when we would receive a short lecture about nutrition through the use of a food pyramid provided for us by the USDA. You know what I’m talking about right? This thing:usda_food_pyramid

This is where it all began. The government makes sure you know at an early age what kinds of foods you need to consume on a day to day basis. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but what if they’re wrong? It turns out they were a little off, and as I got older, the pyramid changed. By the time I was a senior in high school, the pyramid looked like this:myplate_magenta

Personally, through what I’ve learned about nutrition, I most certainly prefer the newly created food pyramid or food plate. Notice how a portion of the plate is labeled “protein”, not “meat”. There are so many different foods in the world that contain protein that are better for your body than animal products. Some of these foods include beans, nuts, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan and certain protein containing vegetables. Believe it or not people, broccoli has protein in it. So why is meat so bad? Humans have been eating meat since day one, so why is it that all of a sudden meat is beginning to be viewed as bad for you? Well, for one thing, meat is high in cholesterol. Cholesterol clogs your arteries and inevitably leads to heart complications. According to Joe Leech, a nutritionist for Authority Nutrition, meat, poultry, and dairy are considered to be highly acidic (2). Basically, during digestion, your body actually implements fat cells in between your organs to protect your organs from being harmed by ample amounts of acid (1). So if you’re not putting on the extra pounds from the high amounts of saturated fat already in your meat, you’re literally causing yourself to implement fat cells into your body. Inevitably, there are better sources of protein available for your consumption. Plant based proteins contain no cholesterol, and most of them are considered alkaline, or non acidic.

The only thing non vegan on that spread is the little cup in the top right corner labeled “dairy”. I could go on an on about dairy, however, for now all I’m going to say is that dairy is also acidic and extremely high in fat, which is not healthy. But I need milk because milk has calcium and calcium builds strong bones right? Sorry friend. The honest truth is that you do not need milk for calcium consumption. In fact, I found a little myth buster for you from Save our Bones that basically states that the protein content in milk is so high compared to the calcium content in milk, that when milk is digested, the calcium acts as an agent to alkalize the acid from the animal protein. Your body needs so much calcium to carry out this task that it actually ends up taking calcium from your bones. This action is so severe, that over time it can actually cause osteoporosis, also known as the brittling of your bones (3). There you have it friends, you do not need milk for strong bones. So what do you need to consume milk, cheese or yogurt for? Nothing.

What do I eat in a day you ask? The answer is fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, grains, seeds, and many other wonderful things from this earth. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. I can’t take credit for that quote, because I didn’t write it, but it’s very true. If you change your opinion on meat, dairy, fruits, veggies and everything else, chances are your life and your body will change. My question to you is: What do you eat in a day? Think about it. How does it make you feel? Do you need to make a change? There are so many ways to be creative with foods straight from this earth. Believe it or not there is more to life than hamburgers and french fries. Get out of your little food bubble and start exploring, because once you do, that will only be the veganing.

References:

1) Barnouin, K., Freedman, R., & Gockle, M. (2005). Skinny bitch. Running Press Book Publishers: Philadelphia, U.S.A

2) |, B. J. (2016). The Alkaline Diet: An Evidence-Based Review. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from https://authoritynutrition.com/the-alkaline-diet-myth/

3) Goldschmidt, M. V. (n.d.). Debunking The Milk Myth: Why Milk Is Bad For You And Your Bones. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/