Category Archives: diets

Benefits of a Plant Based Diet





Watch Rip Esselstyn’s (author of Engine 2 Diet) TEDTalk on how the Plant Strong Diet improved the health of his fire house.

By the way, Rip Esselstyn is the son of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George’s Hospital in London. Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. He was studying about how a plant-based diet can reverse chronic diseases, such as heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, etc.

No kidding…we have cures for these common killers already?! Pharmaceutical companies are not advertising it. Doctors are not believing it, because they’re trained to prescribe medications.

Anyway, watch “Forks Over Knives” documentary in Netflix, and you’ll know who Dr. Esselstyn is and what the China Study discover.

BENEFITS OF A PLANT BASED DIET”

Lower Oxidative Stress & Inflammation

Studies show that high intake of whole plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, tea, coffee, red wine and olive oil, decreases levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, which are associated with the development of chronic disease. (Nutrition, 2004 and JACC, 2006)

In the Adventist Health Study II, a vegetarian diet was linked to lower CRP levels, a marker of inflammation. (Ethn Dis, 2011)

Healthy Gut/Immune System

Increasing evidence fiber-rich, plant-based diet promotes healthy gut microbiota, linked to immune support and digestive health.
EPIC study found lower rate of hospital admissions and risk of death from diverticular disease among vegetarians. (BMJ, 2011)

Brain Protection

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress lead to development of Alzheimer’s. Adherence to Mediterranean, plant-based diet linked with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (Archives Neurology, 2009)

Environmental Working Group

All meat is not created equal. Lamb, beef, pork and cheese generate the most greenhouse gases. They also tend to be high in fat and have the worst environmental impacts. Meat and dairy products requires large amount of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, fuel, feed and water and generates greenhouse gases, toxic manure and other pollutants that contaminate our air and water.

Challenges of a Plant based Diet

Misperceptions, such as getting adequate protein and calcium intake.
More food preparation required.
Lack of cooking skills regarding beans, whole grains, tofu.
Unfamiliarity with new foods, such as tofu, tempeh (Indonesian fermented soy), seitan.
Meeting nutritional needs.

Developing and Planning a Plant based Eating Style

Include more whole plant foods, such as plant proteins:
Legumes (beans, lentils, and peas)
Whole Soy Foods (tofu, tempeh, soy milk)
Nuts and Nut Butters (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, Brazil nuts, peanuts)
Seeds and Seed Butters (sunflower, sesame, hemp, chia, pumpkin seeds) walnut, hemp and chia good source omega-3 FA.
Whole grains (quinoa, wheat berries, oats, brown rice) can be good protein source (up to 11 g protein per cup, i.e. Kamut)
Vegetables, such as peas, spinach, and broccoli (can contain up to 6 g protein per cup)

Plant proteins, such as legumes, nuts and seeds, are excellent “protein packages”—packed with fiber, micronutrients, phytochemicals.

Calcium

If no dairy, choose total of two servings per day of calcium-fortified foods, such as plant-based milk alternatives, tofu, or orange juice.
Choose more dark green leafy vegetables.
Calcium supplement to meet daily calcium needs.

Related article: 15 Non-Dairy Plant based Sources of Calcium that Will Surprise You

Vitamin D

Ten minutes of sunlight exposure a day.

Consume vitamin-D-fortified foods, such as soy milk and orange juice, and consider a vitamin D supplement.

Vitamin B12

Available only in animal foods: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

Also available in nutritional yeasts and fortified products, such as cereal and soy milk.

Vegans should take a vitamin B12 supplement daily.

How to Start Plant Based Eating Style

Start the day right. Go veggie at breakfast or fruits and veggie smoothie.

Join the Meatless Monday bandwagon.

Shop for plants first. Instead of planning your menu around meat, plan it around plants.

If you eat meat, use it as a seasoning. Cut down on animal food intake while pushing plants by using meat as a flavoring in dishes instead of main event. Idea from indigenous diet. Great ways to reduce meat intake, but not completely giving up.

Create a plant-based pantry list. Many plant based foods like beans and whole grains are shelf-stable, convenient, and economical.

Get cooking! Plan at least one night a week to try a new vegetarian recipe. Do it with Meatless Monday night.

Keep it simple. Not every meal has to involve cookbooks and cutting boards; it can be as easy as black bean burritos, vegetarian chili, or hummus pita sandwich.

Try ethnic flair. Some cultures know how to do vegetarian meals right!

Convert your favorite dishes. Turn your favorite meat-based recipes veggie for an easy dinner solution. New family favorite.

Dust off your slow-cooker. Just throw in veggies, herbs, vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, whole grains, and dried beans; then turn the dial on.

Try plant-based dairy products. Try more plant-based alternatives for milk, yogurt, and cheese. Popular as there are many alternative choices available.

Think “yes”. Don’t dwell on what you can’t have, think about what you can have! There are thousands of choices.

Helpful tips

1. Puree, chop, or dice vegetables into smaller pieces to hide them in dishes and stuffed foods to increase taste and nutrition without the family noticing.

2. I introduce people to green smoothies… If possible, we make a smoothie together so they can see how simple it is. Hands-on or demo gives them more confidence than just getting a recipe.

3. Warn clients that not all meat free foods (especially the packaged products) are healthy just because they are meat free. Encourage them to read food labels and try to follow the 5 ingredient rule (try to stick to foods that only include 5 ingredients).

4. I recommend to my clients to eat a fruit or vegetable (or both!) at each meal and snack. That way they’ll get 5 or more servings in each day. Repeat this day after day and you have a positive healthy habit.

5. Add veggies to your traditional recipes. Try adding a can of pumpkin puree to your favorite chili recipe. You can’t taste the pumpkin at all, but it boosts the nutrient profile and gives it a fabulous texture!

6. Buy in bulk. Purchase more when there is a good deal or when something is especially delicious. Most fruits and vegetables keep well in the freezer and then you will always have them on hand.

7. Be open to adding different spices and herbs, it can really tantalize the taste buds! Every day you can have a mini food adventure trying new foods and flavors while becoming healthier.

8. On Sunday afternoons, turn on some good music and invest an hour to chop up veggies and prepare “food for the week”…This way you have “ready to go” options to get you through the week for lunches, meals and side dishes!

9. No time to slice fresh veggies for a salad? Add frozen peas or frozen mixed veggies instead. They will be defrosted by lunch and ready to top with your favorite dressing.

10. Start your grocery store trip in the produce isle. Only shop on the outside of the store. This helps eliminate most processed foods and helps your cart contain fresh foods. Fruits and vegetables should fill up the bottom of your cart.

Essential amino acids in plant-based diet:
Complement plant food. Plant protein always missing a few amino acid (x soy, spinach and quinoa). New idea is the amino acid intake throughout the day, not focus in a meal. Plant protein with lower digestibility, thus recommend increasing intake about.

Allergy to soy, nut, legumes, peanut:
Consider if true food intolerances. May introduce dairy product to meet protein needs.

Additional resources:

• China Study by Collin Campbell
• Beautiful Truth documentary video
• Forks Over Knives documentary video
• Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
• In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan





Probiotics

The Good Guys in Our Gut

What is probiotics?

The prefix “pro” means good, as in “pros and cons”. The last part, – biotics, basically means living things, such as bacteria.

So probiotics means good bacteria.

Good vs Bad Gut Bacteria

Our intestines are filthy, not clean and full of bacteria, yeast, etc. Got the picture? In fact, there are between 500-1,000 different species of bacteria in the intestines, mostly large intestines. Small intestines contains only a small amount as it is close to the acidic content of the stomach.

Let’s get back to our bacteria in the large intestines. Actually there are more than just bacteria. There are also fungi or yeast and protozoa. Of course, there are good ones and bad ones too.

Let’s start with why there is bacteria in our intestines. Who would have thought of that?

Actually, these bacteria are scavangers in our system. As we all know, we ingest food, digest food, then absorbs the nutrients from the food. These all happens in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

We always think that this is a very highly efficient system at least it has stayed pretty much the same over last millions of years with the first human on earth.

Anyway, food particles are not 100% digested and absorbed. When the leftover food gue gets to the large intestines or colon, someone has to take care of that. Just like we have garbage man who takes care of our garbage in the city.

The intestines provide the perfect environment for these critters to survive – moisture, nutrients and protection to outside threats.

The only threats they have antibiotics.

Anyway, while our intestines provide a nurturing environment for these critters, they’re also working for us.

Obviously, these bacteria are eating our leftover undigested food scraps. Here’s the difference between good bacteria (probiotics) and bad bacteria.

They both have their own very distinct diet.

The good bacteria (probiotics) prefers healthy foods, and they break down the undigested carbohydrates and produces short-chain fatty acids that our body can use for energy. Kind of like recycling, and renewable energy.

The good bacteria can also make vitamin B’s and vitamin K. And they also help with metabolizing bile acids, sterols and xenobiotics.

The bad guys feed on junk food. And you know what I’m talking about. The byproducts that they produced are harmful to our body. And some studies is showing that having a well-fed robust population of bad bacteria in your gut is the probable cause of obesity.

So how do we get more of the good probiotics guys and get rid of the bad guys?

The way I frequently explained to my families is an analogy to keeping a house pet.

We all know kitty eats cat food. And doggie eats dog food.

Since we know the good and bad guys eat a different diet. We’re going to feed more of the healthy diet that the good guys prefers, and restrict the bad guys’ diet of junk food.

When this happens, the bad bacteria will soon die because of lack of food for them. And the good bacteria will continue to flourish on the healthy food, and less environmental competition from the bad bacteria.

Also, taking a probiotic supplement is a good ways to add more good bacteria to your intestines. This will also help crowd out the bad bacteria.

Remember, taking the probiotics supplement is not enough. You need to feed your “pet” (probiotics) with a healthy diet. Otherwise, they’ll keep dying of hunger and starvation. And you’ll be wasting your probiotic supplements.

What are some good ways to add probiotics to your diet?

The best sources of probiotics are in fermented foods and beverages. It sounds quite disgusting, but these products actually taste pretty good.

Kefir. Kefir is a fermented yogurt drink made from milk. You can also get Kefir made from coconut water, if you’re allergic to milk. You can purchase your own kefir grain, and make your own kefir from organic milk or coconut water. The kefir grain can last up to couple of years.

Kefir is different from the commercial yogurt drinks (ie Danimals), which has only sprinkles of probiotics.

Kombucha Fermented tea. I think you can make your own, but I wouldn’t trust myself with this one.

Kim chee This is a spicy fermented vegetables in Korean cuisine. The vegetable is usually marinated and fermented in Korean chili pasta and salt. The most common kim chee is made with Napa cabbage. But you can also get cucumber kim chee.

Probiotics supplement Start with at least 1 billion colony forming unit (CFUs). Don’t waste you time and money with anything less.

Just a word of caution. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria. That’s why a course of probiotics during antibiotics therapy is beneficial. Be sure to take the probiotics and antibiotics at least 2 hours apart from each other.




ADHD Diet that Works

ADHD Diet That Works

Before we ponder further about various ADHD Diets out there…let’s first discuss whether diets works for ADHD.

So Do ADHD diets help?

In March 2011, FDA started looking into science review of the relationship between ADHD symptoms and food colorings. Until now there are no conclusive studies or research to show that any diets are effective in treating any symptoms of ADHD.

Science or myth?

So science is telling us “no, ADHD diets do not help”. But interestingly, many referrals I received are parents of children with newly diagnosed ADHD, and would like to try diet first before starting ADHD medications.

Do parents know something intuitively?

Mmmm…

If you change your child’s diet in a good way and you notice improvements in his behaviors, then who cares what the study said.

In my opinion, after working in the healthcare field for over 10 years, scientific studies and researches only prove, at their best, what is most likely to happen to a certain population. Just because 70% of the studied population response to a certain treatment does not mean the other 30% possibility does not exist.

We all need to remember each of us is genetically different in some minor ways, that is, each of us interpret taste and smell differently, react to food and chemical differently. Thus, it makes sense that it is possible that some children are more sensitive to certain food coloring and preservatives used in processing food, and some of us just have a harder time excreting environmental toxins in our food supply.

Some of these claims of ADHD diets have to be legitimate for people to continue to talk about it and trying it despite inconclusive scientific results. Especially with how fast news spread nowadays. If none of these ADHD diets work, we would have heard enough of it by now. Besides, I have seen enough patients in my practice to say that I believe in dietary approach.

If you are willing to accept the challenge of a new diet and lifestyle and know what you are doing or have a registered dietitian, who is knowledgeable in these ADHD diets, willing to work with you, why not give it a try. That’s the only way to know if it works for YOU or YOUR children, not some research done on other children or adults.

So let’s get started in exploring different diets that may help with alleviating some ADHD symptoms.

We need to start with basic…is your child eating a well-balanced diet with 3 meals and 1-2 snacks throughout the day?

Always remember to start with a good nutritional foundation for your child. Otherwise, you’ll be just running in circles with all these ADHD treatment options.

Ensure that your children are well-fed in the morning with a champion high protein breakfast. No one can focus and think well on an empty tank. This is the simplest thing you can do to help your child start the day out right. Give them fuel for their brains so they can focus.

To understand how and what diet works for ADHD, we need to understand the Causes of ADHD – abnormal physiology of the ADHD brain or premature prefrontal cortex, systemic oxidative stress, poor food and nutrition intake, leaky gut as a result of candida overgrowth, food allergy or sensitivity and environmental toxins.

Please refer to Causes of ADHD
Based on the possible causes of ADHD, our diet needs to be nutrient-dense, free of toxins and allergens,, and rich in antioxidants that promotes detoxification, enhance immune system and reduces inflammation.

Wow…is there really a diet that does all of these?

In fact, there is…

Eat a Plant-based Whole Foods Diet

Watch Food Matters

The plant-based diet is nutrient-dense, free of toxins and allergens, and rich in antioxidants that promotes detoxification, enhance immune system and reduces inflammation.

In a plant-based diet, nutrition comes mostly from plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds.
Unprocessed whole food from various plant sources are naturally rich in antioxidants that promotes the nutrients our body needs to function optimally, supports detoxification process, reduces inflammation and immune-enhancing.

Animal products (dairy, eggs, meat, pork, seafood) are restricted as they induce inflammation, and not to mention filled with antibiotics and growth hormones. Excessive cooking or overcooking of meat produces carcinogens that are harmful to our body.

Not to mention…the plant-based diet is also animal-friendly.

Watch Vegucated

Processed foods and fast foods are avoided because these are loaded with toxins ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, food coloring, and preservatives that damage brain cells.

In fact, some food colorings and high fructose corn syrup are banned in some European countries due to the documented hyperactivity in children after consumption. We are so behind in the United States.

Organic options are emphasis to ensure the both natural ingredients without toxic pesticides and genetically altered species.

Read Plant-based Diet

What about the Gluten-free Casein-Free Diet that You Hear Everyone’s Bragging About?

Well…I would say it doesn’t hurt to try it for a while along with the plant-based diet. After all, many children with ADHD and even adults have problems with dairy and gluten.

In fact, dairy products are not even good for our body, and we don’t need dairy in our diet to get calcium.

In the book China Study, Dr. Campbell reveals that the whole dietary recommendation to have daily intake of dairy product is a scam. In fact, countries that consume the most dairy products also have the most incidences of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Dairy products can also cause liver cancer.

In my practice, I see so many constipated kids. And many parents can pinpoint the cause to dairy products.

So, yes to casein-free or better yet dairy-free diet.

Gluten-free diet is a little tricky.

I would say eliminate gluten only if your child is sensitive or has reaction to it.

The Feingold Diet is the first ADHD diet known. It focuses on eliminating artificial food colorings, preservatives and natural salicylates (a cousin of aspirin).

The Candida Diet focuses on treating the underlying leaky gut, which is the result of candida overgrowth. It emphasizes on low simple sugar and low carbohydrate intake to starve off the yeast population. Antifungal medications or herbs may be used together to facilitate the eradication of yeast.

While starving the yeast to death, you also bring in new residence, probiotics (good bacteria) and a non-pathogenic yeast, into the picture.

The Body Ecology diet encourages fermented vegetables and beverages, such as kim chee and kefir, to re-introduce beneficial bacteria in the intestines.

The Specific Carbohydrate diet introduces beneficial bacteria through a homemade goat’s milk yogurt.

Low FODMAP Diet maybe used to reduce symptoms of gas, bloating, cramping and/or diarrhea as a result of excessive fermentation of fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols. FODMAP is an acronym for “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols”. FODMAPs can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and are then fermented by gut bacteria to produce gas. Current research strongly suggests that this group of carbohydrates contributes to irritable bowel syndrome and functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Interest in juicing has exploded in the last decade due to a number of books, videos that claims the extraordinary healing power of juicing or juice fast.

Documentaries such as Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and Beautiful Truth have increased the awareness that many disease can be cured by simply changing one’s dietary habits. Drinking freshly made juices daily is advocated to cure many currently considered “uncurable” diseases and illnesses, such as cancer (including end stage), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

Are You Ready for a Change for the Better?