with Brian Clement Ph.D., Anna Maria Clement Ph.D., Steve Blake, Sc.D, Sunil Pai, M.D., Gabriel Cousens, M.D.
Cancer as a mitochondrial metabolic disease
The Turner twins have climbed a mountain and trekked to the most inaccessible points on every continent, all in the name of research, charitable causes, and exploration. For their latest adventure, brothers Hugo and Ross Turner trekked into even more fraught territory — comparing the effects of a vegan diet to an omnivorous diet on two genetically identical people.
The Turners decided to study the two eating styles side by side over a 12-week fitness training regime from January to March this year. They were inspired by the growing popularity (and sometimes controversy) of vegan diets for athletes, following documentaries like “The Game Changers,” according to Ross.
“We wanted to take bias and opinion out of it and take down to the genetic level. We can get science involved because we’re twins and genetically identical, so we can compare ourselves in extreme environments,” Ross told Insider.
The pair monitored how they felt during the course of the experiment and were followed by researchers from King’s College, who tracked basic health metrics like weight, cholesterol, and muscle mass.
Both twins did endurance training at the gym five to six times a week, using a program designed by Ross, a personal trainer. They also ate an almost identical number of calories in meals prepared by the Mindful Chef delivery service.
By the end, they noticed some big differences in terms of muscle gains, fat loss, and digestive health.
Before giving up animal products for the experiment, Hugo weighed in about 185 pounds and 13% body fat. After about a month on the vegan diet, he said he had dropped nearly nine pounds. By the end of the experiment, he measured in at 181 pounds. Nearly all the weight lost was fat mass, with his overall body-fat composition dipping by a full percentage point, to 12%. His cholesterol levels also dropped.
Even more striking were his energy levels. Hugo said he felt significantly more alert during his lunchtime gym sessions, compared with his typical routine.
“On a vegan diet my mental focus was much better, I didn’t have the mid-afternoon energy dips, and felt a bit more charged,” he told Insider.
He said one explanation could be how the vegan diet changing his snacking habits. Since biscuits and chips aren’t vegan, he’d switched to mainly fruit and nuts.
Hugo noticed one exception to his higher energy levels — his libido, which he said dropped off sharply.
“I just lost it — I really don’t know what happened,” he said, adding that his experience may not be true for everyone.
The twins did not conduct blood tests during the experiment, but said they would do so if they tried something similar in the future. They could measure testosterone, for example, to see if it explains some of the changes.
Ross has always been the slightly bigger of the brothers, and this was exacerbated by the experiment. From starting around 13% body fat, he put on 10 pounds of muscle, in addition to just over four pounds of fat. That brought his overall body fat percentage up slightly, to 15%, and his final weigh-in to 189 pounds.
His cholesterol levels stayed consistent throughout the 12-week duration.
Ross said the meal plan for this experiment was slightly more varied than his typical diet, and extremely balanced in terms of macronutrients, with array of chicken, fish, red meat, veggies, dairy, and grains.
Before this, a typical day of eating for the twins would include toast or porridge for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and some version of chicken, veggies, or pasta for dinner.
For Hugo, the dietary change was even more significant, since his usual animal-based protein was swapped out for things like tofu, tempeh (fermented soybeans), and jackfruit.
“Eating a vegan diet, you almost have to overcompensate with variety, so I was eating foods I wasn’t really used to,” Hugo said.
As a result, his gut microbiome — the populations of beneficial bacteria that live in the human digestive system — also changed in some interesting ways, based on fecal samples analyzed by Atlas Biomed before and after the experiment.
The changes potentially improved Hugo’s resilience to some forms of chronic illness, according to the analysis, lowering his risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. That supports previous research suggesting plant-based diets could reduce the risk of those conditions by improving the microbiome.
But to their surprise, both brothers saw a decrease in their microbial diversity, or the number of different bacteria species present in the gut. That’s generally linked to less resilience against some types of chronic illness such as Crohn’s disease.
Although Ross’ microbiome changed slightly, it remained much more consistent than his brother’s.
It’s not clear why those changes occurred, although the Turners hypothesized that the abrupt change to a vegan diet, and the relatively short duration of the experiment, might have been factors.
One caveat of the experiment, the Turners said, was that 12 weeks wasn’t a long time for a typical dietary study. If they could do it over, the brothers said they’re prefer to trial the diets for six months to a year for better data.
But the brothers said they’ve learned a lot and plan to incorporate more plant-based eating in their lifestyle. The brothers are known for their endurance expeditions and want to test how vegan eating might benefits them on their treks.
“You lose about half a kilo of weight a day on an endurance trip, more than that if you’re carrying extra weight, so we like to be lean and mean nothing in between on the trip,” Hugo said.
He added that being forced to find vegan alternatives also greatly expanded his world of food options.
“One thing to come out of this is we don’t eat nearly enough variety of foods. Often, we kind of just disguise the same foods in different forms,” Hugo said. “But variety is the spice of life.”
Ross said that there tends to be a reluctance for meat eaters to try vegan foods, and he hopes this experiment will encourage dedicated omnivores to branch out, since many plant-based substitutes like vegan burgers are similar in taste and texture to the classics.
If you’re curious about trying veganism, he added, you don’t to go “cold tofu” and jump in all at once. Based on his experience, Hugo recommends starting with your snacking habits, and swapping out between-meal treats with vegan options.
The twins concluded that their optimal diet is a mix of plant- and animal-based foods.
“Having a vegan diet has benefits and so does eating meat. I don’t think either outshone the other here,” he said. “We’ll be doing a mix of both, having non-meat days and adding more vegan foods into our diet, eating better-quality meat and less of it. We’ve taken away the best of both worlds.”
Is any panic more primitive than the one prompted by the thought of empty grocery store shelves? Is any relief more primitive than the one provided by comfort food?
Most everyone has been doing more cooking these days, more documenting of the cooking, and more thinking about food in general. The combination of meat shortages and President Trump’s decision to order slaughterhouses open despite the protestations of endangered workers has inspired many Americans to consider just how essential meat is.
Is it more essential than the lives of the working poor who labor to produce it? It seems so. An astonishing six out of 10 counties that the White House itself identified as coronavirus hot spots are home to the very slaughterhouses the president ordered open.
In Sioux Falls, S.D., the Smithfield pork plant, which produces some 5 percent of the country’s pork, is one of the largest hot spots in the nation. A Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa, had 730 cases of the coronavirus — nearly 60 percent of its employees. At another Tyson plant, in Waterloo, Iowa, there were 1,031 reported cases among about 2,800 workers.
Despite this grisly reality — and the widely reported effects of the factory-farm industry on America’s lands, communities, animals and human health long before this pandemic hit — only around half of Americans say they are trying to reduce their meat consumption. Meat is embedded in our culture and personal histories in ways that matter too much, from the Thanksgiving turkey to the ballpark hot dog. Meat comes with uniquely wonderful smells and tastes, with satisfactions that can almost feel like home itself. And what, if not the feeling of home, is essential?
Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming. According to The Economist, a quarter of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 say they are vegetarians or vegans, which is perhaps one reason sales of plant-based “meats” have skyrocketed, with Impossible and Beyond Burgers available everywhere from Whole Foods to White Castle.
At the very least it has forced us to look. When it comes to a subject as inconvenient as meat, it is tempting to pretend unambiguous science is advocacy, to find solace in exceptions that could never be scaled and to speak about our world as if it were theoretical.
According to the research director of Project Drawdown — a nonprofit organization dedicated to modeling solutions to address climate change — eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.”
We cannot claim to care about the humane treatment of animals while continuing to eat meat regularly. The farming system we rely on is woven through with misery. Modern chickens have been so genetically modified that their very bodies have become prisons of pain even if we open their cages. Turkeys are bred to be so obese that they are incapable of reproducing without artificial insemination. Mother cows have their calves ripped from them before weaning, resulting in acute distress we can hear in their wails and empirically measure through the cortisol in their bodies.
No label or certification can avoid these kinds of cruelty. We don’t need any animal rights activist waving a finger at us. We don’t need to be convinced of anything we don’t already know. We need to listen to ourselves.
It goes without saying that we want to be safe. We know how to make ourselves safer. But wanting and knowing are not enough.
These are not my or anyone’s opinions, despite a tendency to publish this information in opinion sections. And the answers to the most common responses raised by any serious questioning of animal agriculture aren’t opinions.
Don’t we need animal protein? No.
We can live longer, healthier lives without it. Most American adults eat roughly twice the recommended intake of protein — including vegetarians, who consume 70 percent more than they need. People who eat diets high in animal protein are more likely to die of heart disease, diabetes and kidney failure. Of course, meat, like cake, can be part of a healthy diet. But no sound nutritionist would recommend eating cake too often.
If we let the factory-farm system collapse, won’t farmers suffer? No.
The corporations that speak in their name while exploiting them will. There are fewer American farmers today than there were during the Civil War, despite America’s population being nearly 11 times greater. This is not an accident, but a business model. The ultimate dream of the animal-agriculture industrial complex is for “farms” to be fully automated. Transitioning toward plant-based foods and sustainable farming practices would create many more jobs than it would end.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask a farmer if he or she would be happy to see the end of factory farming.
A 2015 study found that a vegetarian diet is $750 a year cheaper than a meat-based diet. People of color disproportionately self-identify as vegetarian and disproportionately are victims of factory farming’s brutality. The slaughterhouse employees currently being put at risk to satisfy our taste for meat are overwhelmingly brown and black. Suggesting that a cheaper, healthier, less exploitative way of farming is elitist is in fact a piece of industry propaganda.
Can’t we work with factory-farming corporations to improve the food system? No.
Well, unless you believe that those made powerful through exploitation will voluntarily destroy the vehicles that have granted them spectacular wealth. Factory farming is to actual farming what criminal monopolies are to entrepreneurship. If for a single year the government removed its $38-billion-plus in props and bailouts, and required meat and dairy corporations to play by normal capitalist rules, it would destroy them forever. The industry could not survive in the free market.
Perhaps more than any other food, meat inspires both comfort and discomfort. That can make it difficult to act on what we know and want. Can we really displace meat from the center of our plates? This is the question that brings us to the threshold of the impossible. On the other side is the inevitable.
With the horror of pandemic pressing from behind, and the new questioning of what is essential, we can now see the door that was always there. As in a dream where our homes have rooms unknown to our waking selves, we can sense there is a better way of eating, a life closer to our values. On the other side is not something new, but something that calls from the past — a world in which farmers were not myths, tortured bodies were not food and the planet was not the bill at the end of the meal.
One meal in front of the other, it’s time to cross the threshold. On the other side is home.
Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of “Eating Animals” and “We Are the Weather.”
Regardless of health status, eating more fruits and vegetables — meaning 10 or more servings daily — can reduce subclinical damage to the heart, according to findings published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues looked back at serology samples from the DASH study that sought to determine the effect of diet on blood pressure and cholesterol. The 8-week long DASH study compared three diets — a traditional American diet, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and the so-called DASH diet, which was heavy on fruits and vegetables but also low in fats — to determine the dietary impact on biomarkers of subclinical damage to the heart.
In this new analysis, they compared levels of highly sensitivity cardiac troponin I, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), and high-sensitivity c-reactive protein in blood samples collected at baseline in the DASH study and after the 8-week-long intervention. They analyzed specimens from 326 of the original 459 DASH trial participants.
The original DASH trial was conducted in the mid-1990s and, at that time, the mean age of the participants was “was 45.2 years, 48% were women, 49% were black, and mean baseline BP was 131/85 mmHg.”
In this analysis, both the fruit and vegetable diet and the DASH diet reduced troponin I concentrations and NT-proBNP levels, compared to the control diet. “But levels of hs-CRP did not differ among diets,” they wrote. “We believe these findings strengthen recommendations for the DASH diet and, more generally, for increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as a means of optimizing cardiovascular health.
“Compared with the control diet, the fruit-and-vegetable diet reduced hs-cTnI levels by 0.5 ng/L (95% CI, 0.9-0.2 ng/L) and NT-proBNP levels by 0.3 pg/mL (CI, 0.5-0.1 pg/mL). Compared with the control diet, the DASH diet reduced hs-cTnI levels by 0.5 ng/L (CI, 0.9-0.1 ng/L) and NT-proBNP levels by 0.3 pg/mL (CI, 0.5-0.04 pg/mL),” they found.
Juraschek and colleagues noted that the original study found the DASH diet lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and reduced LDL-C more than the fruit and vegetable diet.
However, that benefit “did not translate into significant differences in hs-cTnI and NT-proBNP levels between the fruit-and-vegetable and DASH diets at 8 weeks,” they explained. “Although reductions in these markers reflect short-term improvements in subclinical CVD injury, their relationships with CVD events have been observed independent of pathways predicted by traditional risk factors. Thus, they do not necessarily capture, for example, long-term ischemic risk from atherosclerotic plaque burden and potential rupture. This distinction is important, because the BP- and cholesterol-reducing features of the DASH diet probably still play an important role in long-term CVD risk prevention. Further research is needed to study the longitudinal effects of the DASH diet on CVD events.”
In an editorial that accompanied the report by Juraschek et al, Ramon Estruch, MD, PhD, and Rosa Casas, MD, PhD, from the University of Barcelona, along with Emilio Ros, MD, PhD, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain, were enthusiastic in their praise of the findings, noting that the researchers took advantage of the original data set and stored serum specimens of the DASH clinical trial (4) and compared the effects of the 3 feeding interventions…”
Estuch, Casas, and Ros pointed out that highly sensitive troponin I “is useful for diagnosing minor myocardial injury in patients with clinical manifestations of atherosclerotic CVD and is an excellent predictor of heart failure hospitalization and cardiac death (5); NT-proBNP has emerged as a hallmark biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of heart failure… ” but hs-CRP—the inflammatory marker that was not affected by diet — “is a much debated nonspecific marker of systemic inflammation, for which inconsistent results have been found concerning its incremental value in CVD risk prediction.”
The researchers and the editorialists noted that the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables include “higher amounts of potassium, magnesium, and fiber,” benefits that may explain the observed effects.
“High intake of fruits and vegetables is the basis of a healthy diet, and almost all medical and nutrition societies, as well as governments, recommend eating these foods daily to reduce the risk for CVD and improve overall health. However, the recommendations vary, from up to 400 g/d (5 servings per day) in England to 640 to 800 g/d (around 8 to 10 servings per day) in the United States,” wrote Ramon Estruch, Casas, and Ros. “Likewise, a recent meta-analysis of 95 prospective studies concluded that for each 200-g/d (2.5 servings per day) increase in the intake of fruits, vegetables, or fruits and vegetables combined, coronary heart disease risk decreased 8% to 16%, stroke risk decreased 13% to 18%, CVD risk decreased 8% to 13%, and all-cause mortality risk decreased 10% to 15%. When consumption of fruits and vegetables was 800 g/d or greater (>10 servings per day), these risks were reduced by 24%, 33%, 38%, and 31%, respectively. The same meta-analysis found that the foods with the strongest beneficial associations with CVD and mortality were apples and pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, and fresh salads. In contrast, intake of canned fruits was associated with an increased risk for CVD and all-cause mortality.”
Among the study limitations listed by Juraschek and colleagues was the fact that they were not able to analyze samples from all DASH trial participants, thus the findings “are observational and susceptible to confounding.”
Also, they suggested that the freezing-thawing process used for the serum specimens may have degraded the utility of hs-CRP.
Finally, they noted that 8-weeks is a short study duration — to0 short to assess clinical events.
That said, the editorial writers offered a broad interpretation of the significance of the findings, suggesting that recommendations “to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables to at least 10 servings per day should be generalized to the overall population, regardless of health status.”
When famed surgeon Michael DeBakey was asked why his studies published back in the 1930s linking smoking and lung cancer were ignored, he had to remind people about what it was like back then. We were a smoking society. Smoking was in the movies, on airplanes. Medical meetings were held in “a heavy haze of smoke.”
Continue reading here: Medical Meat Bias | NutritionFacts.org
Joel Kahn, MD, of Detroit, Michigan, is a practicing cardiologist and a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan Medical School and trained in interventional cardiology in Dallas and Kansas City. Known as “America’s Holistic Heart Doc”, Dr. Kahn is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and maintains sub-specialty board certification in Cardiovascular Medicine. He was the first physician worldwide to complete the Metabolic Cardiology curriculum in conjunction with A4M.com/MMI and the University of South Florida.
Dr. Kahn has authored scores of publications in his field including articles, book chapters and monographs. He writes articles for MindBodyGreen, Thrive Global, and Reader’s Digest and has five books in publication including Your Whole Heart Solution, Dead Execs Don’t Get Bonuses and The Plant Based Solution. He has regular appearances on Dr. Phil, The Doctors Show and Fox 2 News. He has also debated plant diets on the Joe Rogan Experience and has been featured with Larry King Live in a recent heart special. He has been awarded a Health Hero award from Detroit Crain’s Business. He owns 3 health restaurants in Detroit and Austin, Texas.
Dr. Kahn can be found at http://www.drjoelkahn.com.
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Brenda Davis offers fresh insights on the treatment of animals in food production and other industries, the latest findings on the health benefits of a vegan diet and expanded the information on phytochemicals, Brenda’s information is extensive in scope, yet manageable for anyone who wants to easily understand how to construct a nutritionally balanced plant-based diet.
Here are the latest findings on: using plant foods to protect against cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses; obtaining essential protein without meat, eggs, or dairy products; discovering “good” fats and where to find them; meeting dietary needs for calcium without dairy products; understanding the importance of vitamin B12; designing balanced vegan diets for infants, children, and seniors; and making the most of vegan pregnancy and breastfeeding.
This is a sound blueprint to follow for better health for yourself and the planet.