Tools for a better night’s sleep

Go2Sleep ring

Not getting sufficient, restful sleep is a big problem for millions of people around the world. Daytime sleepiness has been noted for irritability that can lead to fights, the cause of work-related injuries, and vehicular accidents. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition. It affects children and adults, as well as, men and women and, if not treated, can lead to serious health issues, including, diabetes, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, obesity, stroke, and heart failure.

Many people with sleep apnea don’t realize that they have it. They just think they didn’t sleep well and have “mental fog” or feel tired during the day. In a relationship, their partners notice it more because of the loud snoring and snorting their sleep apnea partner is doing throughout the night.

There are three kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and a combination of both. Obstructive (OSA) is the most common and risk factors including being overweight, a family history of the condition, allergies, a small airway, and enlarged tonsils. In OSA breathing is interrupted by a blocked of airflow, while in Central (CSA) breathing stops due to a lack of effort to breathe. Basically, the brain’s respiratory control centers are imbalanced during sleep and the feedback necessary to keep blood levels of carbon dioxide in check do not react to maintain an even cycling rate so breathing stops. A person can “appear dead” because there are no chest movements and no struggling or gasping for air. Once the brain’s respiratory control centers turn back on there can be fast breathing as the body tries to make up for lost breathing during the apnea period. One can have a combination of the two Obstructive and Central apnea. To be diagnosed one has to experience a minimum of five apnea episodes per hour and have a sleep study done.

A good way to monitor your sleep to find out if you have sleep apnea is to wear the Go2Sleep device by SleepOn. Go2Sleep is a ring you wear on your finger before going to bed. Once asleep, the Go2Sleep ring monitors and tracks your pulse, heart rate, Sp02 blood oxygen level, and sleep apnea occurrences. Paired with your smart phone, the App gives very detailed reports and healthy ranges for total sleep, your sleep stage (how long you spent in deep sleep, light sleep and REM [rapid eye movement]), as well as your AHI (apnea-hypopnea index), resting heart rate per minute during sleep, the number of times you toss and turn during sleep, and the sleep deficient hours over a period of days. Plus, the App gives you reports by the day, week(s) and month and a sleep score so you know how well you are doing.

The Go2Sleep gives you a quick overview of your health
Go2Sleep App individual day view report
Go2Sleep App individual day sleep stage report

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having these reports are extremely helpful in seeking treatment for sleep apnea. My treatment included a CPAP machine and having the Go2Sleep ring with the SleepOn App has made me empowered to handle my condition with confidence. The information in the SleepOn reports regarding my sleep has helped me create healthful patterns to prepare myself to have a more restful sleep.

I would highly recommend getting the SleepOn’s Go2Sleep ring. It is easy to use; you just put it on your finger as noted in the user’s manual and go to sleep. Upon waking, you put the ring on its USB charging base until you are ready to use it again. You access the report information via your smart phone. It is an affordable health and well-being tool at $129 and is available through Amazon, eBay or AliExpress.

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Happy Father’s Day

Father’s Day is supposed to be a celebration honoring fathers. After all, they are responsible for creating 1/2 of you. But, for some reason, praise is given out by the truckloads to mothers. Not that I have anything against mothers or at least good mothers, but I sometimes wonder why one half of the responsible party for giving us life seems to be disregarded.

My father was born a very long time ago – 1913, to be exact. He saw a lot of life in his 77 years. He was a very enterprising man and seemed fearless in the things he set his mind to. I loved him dearly and admired him greatly. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on everything but that was just during my teenage years and completely understandable. Parents can be so parenty.

He had lived through the Great Depression and Civil Rights movement. He had seen a lot of bad things and experienced his fair share of unfortunate events but through them all, he persevered. The year my father turned 52, I was born. While my father did the things you expected fathers to do, he didn’t do the things some kids would expect. He didn’t teach me to ride a bike. My older brother did that. What my father excelled at was providing for his family. As a child, I was thankful that I had a brand new bike complete with a blue glitter banana seat and a basket to put my Barbie dolls, plenty of good food to eat and a roof over my head. He also bought me a blue and white Smith Corona typewriter and gave me the great advice that if I learned how to type that I would always have a job. I love being a journalist.

My father was also a great cook. One of his jobs way before I was born was working on the railroad as a chef. The food for holidays was great because Dad cooked.

My dad represented strength. He was an entrepreneur and had his own advertising specialties firm. My dad also had Type 2 Diabetes. This disease can rob people of so many things – eyesight, limbs and life. Growing up, I didn’t know my father had this horrible disease. I just knew there was this little vial on the door in the refrigerator. I never touched it because I knew it wasn’t mine. I never heard my father discuss his health issues. Back then, people didn’t discuss that, or at least they didn’t with their children.

It hurt me deeply when my father died of Type 2 Diabetes. He was only 77 years old. Watching him slip away in a hospital intensive care ward was the hardest thing for me to see. He didn’t get to see me get married. But, then again, he didn’t see me get divorced either. He didn’t see me become a Type 2 diabetic and rid myself of the horrible disease through adopting a vegan diet. Ultimately, the thing that bothers me the most is that he didn’t get to see me succeed at the things I wanted to do. I want to work to ensure that others do not suffer from Type 2 diabetes and lose their loved ones to this ugly disease. Type 2 Diabetes is out of control and is a global health issue. By making a simple diet change, one can make great strides in improving their health.

I wish my father had lived longer. If he were alive today, he would be celebrating 103 years of life. As I reflect on all the time I spent with my father, I think the thing that sticks out in my mind is my father telling me not to be afraid to try something new.

I would encourage all to try something new – adopting a vegan diet can add years to your life and life to your years. What you do with those years are up to you.

If you are a Type 2 diabetic or know someone who is, I would highly recommend ordering the book “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, The Proven System For Reversing Diabetes.”

Originally published June 21, 2015 on The Vegan Voice. This story has been modified and updated to reflect new information.

The Vegan Voice is now VegWorld Magazine. Click here to subscribe to VegWorld.

To view my stories on vegan lifestyle click here to go to The Only Vegan At The Table.

To view my stories on life in the arts click here to go to www.RobinEverson.com.

 

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Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was started over 150 years ago (in the 1850s) as a way to improve sanitary conditions, fight disease, decrease mortality rate of children and milk contamination. It was connected to soldiers (Civil War) as a day of mourning for women who had lost their loved ones. In 1914, Mother’s Day (the second Sunday in May) was made an official holiday by President Woodrow Wilson. Mother’s Day has grown and evolved into a holiday to acknowledge and commemorate the contributions of mothers, grandmothers and all those who love and care for others. Whether you have or had a good relationship with your mother or not isn’t the point of this article.

Many people send cards, flowers, call her or take her out for a meal to acknowledge their love for their mother. But, there is one group of little ones that do not get to spend Mother’s Day with their mother. In fact, a few hours after being born these babies are ripped from mothers, some not even being able to be nursed let alone growing up and weaned from them. These babies are from the animal kingdom and they along with their mothers share the planet with us.

While I don’t care to go into horrific details about the care and treatment of these mothers and their babies at this time, I do want to make clear that the rights that we have as human beings are, in some way, considered a higher privilege to those of animals and such an ideology is not consistent with compassion.

The majority of mothers in our world would fight, cry, kick and scream if their children were ripped from them. The same goes for mothers in the animal kingdom. The mother/child bond extends beyond that of human beings and animals feel love, loss and pain just like we do.

If we are one world that practices compassion then, we should make sure it extends to all areas of our lives. Consuming animals and their by-products is not conducive to our sustainability, the planet and the lives of animals. Consuming “free-range” or “organic” doesn’t solve the problem. Eating someone’s mother is just wrong. Forcing mother cows to be perpetually pregnant in order to continue producing milk, not for her calf but, for humans to consume is wrong. Grinding up male chicks alive because they are considered “useless” and “unprofitable” is counter to the belief that we are a compassionate society of intelligent beings. Really, think about this. Would you be able to load baby chicks, crying for their mother, into a grinding machine, turn it on and watch them die?

If we truly love our mothers, the planet and all of its inhabitants, then we should live our lives in such a way that celebrates the good in all and does harm to none.

Eating a vegan diet comprised of legumes/beans, vegetables, grains and fruits is the diet that our bodies were designed to enjoy. Consuming such a diet helps us become strong people, shows compassion for our animal friends that share the planet with us and helps sustain the natural resources of the planet.

The best gift you can give to your mother is the gift of love and good health. Taking her out to a vegan restaurant or preparing a healthy, wholesome vegan meal for her will show her that you love her and care about her well being. Not sure how to make a vegan meal? There are some wonderful cookbooks that can help you. Vegan mother and recipe developer Dreena Burton has an excellent cookbook called Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes is a good place to start. Also, Julie Piatt, wife of ultra marathoner Rich Roll and vegan mother of four children, has a new cookbook “The Plantpower Way” that is filled with great tips for the newbie vegan and tasty recipes.

Consider helping out a local farm sanctuary to keep our animal friends safe and happy or by getting involved in advocacy work to spread the message of compassion.

No matter how you choose to spend Mother’s Day, I wish you peace and joy today and every day.

Robin

This article was originally published May 10, 2015 on The Vegan Voice. This story has been modified and updated to reflect new information.

The Vegan Voice is now VegWorld Magazine. Click here to subscribe to VegWorld.

To view my stories on vegan lifestyle click here to go to The Only Vegan At The Table.

To view my stories on life in the arts click here to go to www.RobinEverson.com.

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A double dose of Mondays With Michael

In today’s Mondays with Michael, I share two of Dr. Michael Greger’s blog posts/videos regarding turmeric and cancer.

April 17 has traditionally been a sad day for me. My mother, Rose L. Jackson Everson, 2/2/1932 (2/29/1932) – 4/17/2011, died of “metastatic breast cancer.” Just those three words and you know it isn’t going to end well. She, like my aunt Ruby, died of cancer. Cancer was unheard of in our family health history until these two women were diagnosed with it. Their diet of affluence played a huge part in death by the fork. The science is clear on the power of a whole food, plant-based diet to reverse disease – including cancer. One can wonder if she had changed her diet to a whole food, plant-based diet after her first breast cancer surgery, would she have gotten cancer again 29 years later. (more…)

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Topical Application of Turmeric Curcumin for Cancer

Researchers showed that those at high risk for colon cancer could reverse the progression of their disease by taking curcumin, the yellow pigment in the spices turmeric and curry powder, cutting down on precancerous lesions, and even pre-precancerous lesions. Are there other high-risk lesions we can try spicing up?

How about giving turmeric extracts to people who just had bladder cancer taken out, or who have an early stage of squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer caused by arsenic exposure, or early stage cervical cancer, or precancerous lesions in the mouth or the stomach? In about a quarter of the patients, the lesions started to get better. One out of the two bladder cancer survivors, two out of seven precancerous mouth lesions, one out of six precancerous stomach lesions, one out of four early stage cervical cancer cases and two out of six early stage skin cancer, all without any noticeable side-effects. (more…)

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Turmeric Curcumin & Pancreatic Cancer

Turmeric powder is a powerful cancer fighter

Carcinogens in grilled and baked chicken may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, while curcumin, the yellow pigment in the spice turmeric, may sometimes help even in advanced stages of the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is among the most aggressive forms of human cancer with a very high mortality rate. It represents the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States with an annual mortality of 32,000 dead. With a 5-year survival rate of only 3% and an average survival of less than 6 months, diagnosis of pancreatic cancer carries one of the poorest prognoses. It’s one of the worst things a doctor ever has to tell a patient. The only FDA-approved therapies for it, gemcitabine and erlotinib, produce objective responses in less than 10% of patients while causing severe side-effects in the majority. There is a desperate need for new options. (more…)

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How To Make Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Wash

How might we reduce our exposure to pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables? What about staying away from imported produce? Turns out domestic produce may be even worse, dispelling this notion that imported fruits and vegetables pose greater potential health threats to consumers.

Buying organic dramatically reduces dietary exposure to pesticides, but does not eliminate the potential risk. Pesticide residues are detectable in about 1 in 10 organic crop samples, due to cross-contamination from neighboring fields, the continued presence of very persistent pesticides like DDT in the soil, or accidental or fraudulent use.

By choosing organic, one hopes to shift exposures from a range of uncertain risk to more of a range of negligible risk, but even if all we had to eat were the most pesticide-laden of conventional produce, there is a clear consensus in the scientific community that the health benefits from consuming fruits and vegetables outweigh any potential risks from pesticide residues. But we can easily reduce whatever risk there is by rinsing our fruits and vegetables under running water.

There are, however, a plethora of products alleged by advertisers to reduce fruit and produce pesticide residues more effectively than water, and touted to concerned consumers. For example, Procter & Gamble introduced a fruit and vegetable wash in the year 2000. As part of the introduction, T.G.I. Fridays jumped on board, bragging on their menus that the cheese and bacon puddles they call potato skins were first washed with the new product. After all, it was proclaimed proven to be 98% more effective than water in removing pesticides. So researchers put it to the test, and it did no better than plain tap water. Shortly thereafter, Procter & Gamble discontinued the product, but numerous others took its place, claiming their vegetable washes are three, four, five, or even ten times more effective than water–to which the researcher replied, “That’s mathematically impossible.” If water removes like 50%, you can’t take off ten times more than 50%. They actually found water removes up to 80% of pesticide residues, like the fungicide captan for example, so for other brands of veggie washes to brag three, four, five, or ten times better than water is mathematically impossible indeed.

Other fruit and vegetable washes have since been put to the test. They compared Fruit & Vegetable Wash to FIT, to two I’ve never heard of, OrganiClean, and Vegi-Clean, compared to using dishwashing soap, all compared to just rinsing in plain tap water. 196 samples of lettuce, strawberries, and tomatoes were tested, and they found little or no difference between just rinsing with tap water compared to any of the veggie washes, or the dish soap. They all just seemed like a waste of money. The researchers concluded that just the mechanical action of rubbing the produce under tap water seemed to do it, and that using detergents or fruit and vegetable washes do not enhance the removal of pesticide residues from produce above that of just rinsing with tap water alone.

That may not be saying much though. Captan appears to be the exception. When rinsing with plain water was tried against a half dozen other pesticides, less than half the residues were removed. Fingernail polish remover works better, but the goal is to end up with a less toxic, not more toxic tomato. We need a straightforward, plausible, and safe method for enhanced pesticide removal, although the efficacy of pesticide removal from fruits and vegetables has been rarely reported in the medical literature. Anything we can add to the tap water to boost its pesticide-stripping abilities?

If you soak potatoes in water, between about 2% to 13% of the pesticides are removed, but a 5% acetic acid solution removes up to 100%. What’s that? Plain white vinegar. But 5% is full strength. What about diluted vinegar? Diluted vinegar seemed only marginally better than tap water for removing pesticide residues. Using full-strength vinegar would get expensive, though. Thankfully, there’s something cheaper that works even better: salt water. A 10% salt water solution appears to work as good or better than full-strength vinegar. To make a 10% salt solution you just have to mix up 1 part salt and 9 parts water, though make sure to rinse all the salt off before eating the fruit or vegetable.

There’s not much you can do for the pesticides in animal products, though. The top sources of some pesticides are fruits and vegetables; but for others, it’s dairy, eggs, and meat, because the chemicals build up in the fat. So, what to do about pesticides in meat, egg yolks or egg whites? Hard boiling appears to destroy more pesticides than scrambling, but for the pesticides that build up in the fat in fish or chicken, cooking can sometimes increase pesticide levels that you can’t just wash off. In fact washing meat, poultry, or eggs is considered one of the top ten dangerous food safety mistakes.

Next week, I’ll answer the question, Are Organic Foods Healthier? For more information be sure to check out my latest videos including this one How To Make Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Wash on NutritionFacts.org

In health,

Michael

Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. Greger is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. He is also the founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is a physician, author and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Colbert Report,” and was an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the “meat defamation” trial. He is the author of the international bestseller “How Not To Die.” Currently, Dr. Greger serves on the advisory board for The Only Vegan At The Table and the North Texas Community Health Initiative. He is also the founder of NutritionFacts.org, a nutrition information website with hundreds of videos available for free. “Monday’s With Michael” is a weekly column featuring the latest in science-based nutrition information.

 

 

 

 

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Are Organic Foods Safer?

In every major grocery store chain in the United States one can find organic and conventional foods. It is no longer a category exclusively found in health food stores. The stated principles of organic agriculture are “health, ecology, fairness, and care” but if you ask people why they buy organic, the strongest predictor was concern for their own health or their family’s. People may spend more for organic more for selfish, rather than altruistic, motives. Although organic foods may not have more nutrients per dollar, consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Food safety-wise, they found no difference in the risk of contamination with food poisoning bacteria in general. Both organic and conventional animal products were commonly contaminated with Salmonella and Campylobacter, for example. Most chicken samples were found to be contaminated either way with Campylobacter, about a third with Salmonella but, the risk of exposure to multidrug-resistant bacteria–resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics–was lower with the organic meat. So they both may carry the same risk of making us sick, but food poisoning from organic meat may be easier for doctors to treat.

What about the pesticides? There is a large body of evidence on the relation between exposure to pesticides and elevated rate of chronic diseases such as different types of cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS, as well as birth defects and reproductive disorders, but they’re talking about people who live or work around pesticides.

Take Salinas Valley California, for example, where they spread half a million pounds of the stuff. Daring to be pregnant in an agricultural community like that may impair childhood brain development, such that pregnant women with the highest levels running through their bodies, as measured in their urine, gave birth to children with an average deficit of about seven IQ points. 26 out of 27 studies showed negative effects of pesticides on brain development in children. These included attention problems, developmental disorders, and short-term memory difficulties.

If you compare kids born with higher levels of a common insecticide in their umbilical cord blood, those who were exposed to higher levels are born with brain anomalies. And these were city kids, so presumably this was from residential pesticide use.

Residential exposure to pesticides, like using insecticides inside your house, may be a contributing risk factor for cancers like childhood leukemia, suggesting that awareness be increased among populations occupationally exposed to pesticides about their potential negative influence on the health of their children–though I don’t imagine most farmworkers have much of a choice. Pregnant farmworkers may be doubling the odds of their child getting leukemia and increase their risk of getting a brain tumor.

So conventional produce may be bad for the pregnant woman who picks them, but what about our own family when we eat them?

First of all, just because we spray pesticides on our food in the fields doesn’t mean it ends up in our bodies when we eat it–or at least we didn’t know that until this study was published in 2006. Researchers measured the levels of two pesticides running through children’s bodies by measuring specific pesticide breakdown products in their urine. Here are the levels of pesticides flowing through the bodies of 3- to 11-year olds during a few days on a conventional diet. Then they went on an organic diet for five days, and then back to the conventional diet. It’s clear that eating organic provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to pesticides commonly used in agricultural production. The study was subsequently extended. Can you guess when the kids were eating organic? You don’t even need the labels on the graph to tell (see video). What about adults, though? We didn’t know, until now. Thirteen men and women consume a diet of at least 80% organic or conventional food for seven days, and then switched. And no surprise, during the mostly organic week, pesticide exposure was significantly reduced, and not just by a little: a nearly 90% drop in exposure.

So it can be concluded that consumption of organic foods provides protection against pesticides, but does that mean protection against disease? We don’t know—the studies just haven’t been done. Nevertheless, in the meantime, the consumption of organic food provides a logical precautionary approach.

Whether you consume organic fruits and vegetables or commercial ones, you should wash them prior to eating them. Next week, I’ll show you How to make your own fruit and vegetable wash. For more information be sure to check out my latest videos including this one Are Organic Foods Safer? on NutritionFacts.org

In health,

Michael

Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. Greger is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. He is also the founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is a physician, author and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Colbert Report,” and was an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the “meat defamation” trial. He is the author of the international bestseller “How Not To Die.” Currently, Dr. Greger serves on the advisory board for The Only Vegan At The Table and the North Texas Community Health Initiative. He is also the founder of NutritionFacts.org, a nutrition information website with hundreds of videos available for free. “Mondays With Michael” is a weekly column featuring the latest in science-based nutrition information.

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Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?

Today is National Strawberry Day. Isn’t it great that there is a national “holiday” devoted to eating this wonderful berry? Wouldn’t it be great if every day was a fruit and berry holiday? When it comes to eating fruit one might ask, “Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?”

Two separate questions: some consumers are interested in getting more nutrients, whereas others are more concerned about getting less pesticides. Let’s do nutrition first. Hundreds of studies reviewed, and they didn’t find significant differences for most of the traditional nutrients like vitamins and minerals, and so concluded that despite the widespread perception that organically produced foods are more nutritious, they didn’t find robust evidence to support that perception. They did, however, find higher levels of phenolic phytonutrients.

These so-called secondary metabolites of plants are thought to be behind many of the benefits ascribed to eating fruits and vegetables. And organic fruits and vegetables had between 19% and 69% more of a variety of these antioxidant compounds. The theory was that these phytonutrients are created by the plant for its own protection. For example, broccoli releases the bitter compound sulforaphane when the plant is chewed, so as to ward off those who would eat it. Bugs take one bite and say ew, this tastes like, broccoli. But pesticide-laden plants are bitten less by bugs, and so may be churning out less of these compounds, whereas plants raised organically are in a fight for their lives, and necessarily have to produce more protection. That was the theory anyway, but we don’t have good evidence to back it up. More likely it has to do with the fertilizer. Plants given high dose synthetic nitrogen fertilizers may divert more resources to growth rather than defense.

These antioxidants may protect the plant, but what about us? More antioxidant phytonutrients found in organic vegetables, and so yes, more antioxidant activity–but also more antimutagenic activity. They exposed bacteria to a variety of mutagenic chemicals like benzopyrene, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon found in barbequed meat, or IQ, the heterocyclic amine found in grilled/broiled/fried meats as well as cigarette smoke, and there were fewer DNA mutations in the Petri dishes where they added organic vegetables compared to the Petri dishes where they added conventional vegetables.

Preventing DNA damage in bacteria is one thing, but what about effects on actual human cells? For example yes, organic strawberries may taste sweeter and better, and have higher antioxidant activity and more phenolic phytonutrients, but let’s stack them up head-to-head against human cancer cells. Extracts from organically grown strawberries suppressed the growth of colon cancer cells and breast cancer cells significantly better than extracts from conventional strawberries. Now this was dripping strawberries directly onto cancer cells growing in a lab, but as we can see in the video (link below), there are real life circumstances in which strawberries come into direct contact with cancerous and precancerous lesions, reversing the progression of esophageal cancer, and so presumably organic strawberries would work even better, but they weren’t tested.

So although in vitro studies show higher antioxidant and antimutagenic activity, as well as better inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, clinical studies on the impact of eating organic on human disease simply haven’t been done. Based on antioxidant phytonutrient levels, organic produce may be considered 20% to 40% healthier, the equivalent of adding one or two servings’ worth to a 5-a-day regimen. But organic produce may be 40% more expensive, so for the same money you could just buy the extra serving’s worth of conventional produce. So from a purely nutrients-per-dollar standpoint, it’s not clear that organic foods are any better. But people may buy organic foods to avoid chemicals, not just because they are more nutritious–which brings us to the next question: Are organic foods safer? Which I’ll address next week.

For more information be sure to check out my latest videos including this one Are Organic Foods More Nutritious on NutritionFacts.org

In health,

Michael

Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. Greger is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. He is also the founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is a physician, author and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Colbert Report,” and was an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the “meat defamation” trial. He is the author of the international bestseller “How Not To Die.” Currently, Dr. Greger serves on the advisory board for The Only Vegan At The Table and the North Texas Community Health Initiative. He is also the founder of NutritionFacts.org, a nutrition information website with hundreds of videos available for free. “Mondays With Michael” is a weekly column featuring the latest in science-based nutrition information.

 

 

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How Not To Die from Heart Disease

Valentine’s Day falls in the month of February – a day we think of love and friendship which is symbolized by a heart. Keeping our heart healthy should be our number one priority.

The most likely reason most of our loved ones will die is heart disease. It’s still up to each of us to make our own decisions as to what to eat and how to live—but, we should make these choices consciously, educating ourselves about the predictable consequences of our actions.

Atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, begins in childhood.

By age ten, the arteries of nearly all kids raised on the Standard American Diet already have fatty streaks—the first stage of the disease.

Then, the plaques start forming in our twenties, get worse in our thirties, and then can start killing us off. In our heart, it’s called a heart attack. In our brain, it can manifest as a stroke.

So, if there is anyone reading this older than age ten, then the choice isn’t whether or not to eat healthy to prevent heart disease; it’s whether or not you want to reverse the heart disease you likely already have.

Is that even possible? When researchers took people with heart disease, and put them on the kind of plant-based diet followed by populations that did not get epidemic heart disease, their hope was that it might slow the disease process down—maybe even stop it. But, instead, something miraculous happened.

The disease started to reverse; to get better. As soon as patients stopped eating artery-clogging diets, their bodies were able to start dissolving some of the plaque away, opening up arteries without drugs, without surgery—suggesting their bodies wanted to heal all along, but were just never given the chance. That improvement in blood flow to the heart muscle itself (on the left as shown in the video link below) was after just three weeks eating healthy.

Let me share with you what’s been called the best-kept secret in medicine. The best-kept secret in medicine is that sometimes, given the right conditions, the body can heal itself.

You know, if you whack your shin really hard on a coffee table, it can get all red, hot, painful, swollen, inflamed—but, will heal naturally, if you just stand back and let your body work its magic. But, what if you kept whacking your shin in the same place, day after day—in fact, three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). It’d never heal!

You’d go to your doctor, and be like, “Oh, my shin hurts,” and the doctor would be like, “No problem,” whip out their pad, write you a prescription for painkillers. You’re still whacking your shin three times a day. Oh, it still really hurts like heck, but oh, feels so much better with those pain pills on board. Thank heavens for modern medicine.

It’s like when people take nitroglycerine for crushing chest pain—tremendous relief, but you’re not doing anything to treat the underlying cause.

Our body wants to come back to health, if we let it. But, if we keep redamaging ourselves three times a day, we may never heal.

One of the most amazing things I learned in all my medical training was that within about 15 years of stopping smoking, your lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong nonsmoker. Isn’t that amazing? Your lungs can clear out all that tar, and eventually, it’s almost as if you never started smoking at all.

And, every morning of our smoking life, that healing process started, until… wham!…our first cigarette of the day, reinjuring our lungs with every puff—just like we can reinjure our arteries with every bite, when all we had to do all along, the miracle cure, is just stand back, get out of the way, stop redamaging ourselves, and let our bodies’ natural healing processes bring us back towards health. The human body is a self-healing machine.

Sure, you could choose moderation—hit yourself with a smaller hammer. But, why beat yourself up at all?

I don’t tell my smoking patients to cut down to half a pack a day. I tell them to quit. Sure, a half pack is better than two packs a day—but, we should try to only put healthy things in our mouths.

We’ve known about this for decades: American Heart Journal, 1977. Cases like Mr. F.W. here; heart disease so bad, he couldn’t even make it to the mailbox—but, started eating healthier, and, a few months later, he was climbing mountains. No pain.

There are all these fancy, new, anti-angina, anti-chest pain drugs out now. They cost thousands of dollars a year. But, at the highest dose, may be able to prolong exercise duration—as long as 33 and a half seconds. It does not look like those choosing the drug route will be climbing mountains anytime soon.

See, plant-based diets aren’t just safer and cheaper. They can work better, because you’re treating the actual cause of the disease.

Healthy eating with a plant-based diet can help you be around your loved ones longer.

For more information be sure to check out my latest videos including this one How Not To Die from Heart Disease on NutritionFacts.org.

In health,

Michael

Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. Greger is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. He is also the founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is a physician, author and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Colbert Report,” and was an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the “meat defamation” trial. He is the author of the international bestseller “How Not To Die.” Currently, Dr. Greger serves on the advisory board for The Only Vegan At The Table and the North Texas Community Health Initiative. He is also the founder of NutritionFacts.org, a nutrition information website with hundreds of videos available for free. “Mondays With Michael” is a weekly column featuring the latest in science-based nutrition information.

 

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About Me

Robin D. Everson’s appreciation for art, food, wine, people, and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. As a multi-faceted entrepreneur, Robin brings a unique look at the world of business through her many interviews and articles. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture.