By Dr. Mercola
Obesity and top killers such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer have something significant in common — they’re all rooted in insulin and leptin resistance.
In other words, the underlying problem is metabolic dysfunction that develops as a result of consuming too many net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber) and/or protein. Sugars found in processed foods and grains are the primary culprits, and the standard American diet is chockfull of both.
Once you develop insulin and leptin resistance, it triggers biochemical cascades that not only make your body hold on to fat, but produce inflammation and cellular damage as well.
Hence, whether you’re struggling with weight and/or chronic health issues, the treatment protocols are the same. This is good news, as it significantly simplifies your approach to improving your health. You won’t need a different set of strategies to address each condition.
In short, by optimizing your metabolic and mitochondrial function, you set yourself squarely on the path to better health. So how do you correct these metabolic imbalances? Your diet is key. The timing of your meals can also play an important role.
Nutritional Ketosis May Be Key for Optimal Health
By eating a healthy high-fat, low-carbohydrate and low- to moderate-protein diet, you enter into what is known as nutritional ketosis: a state in which your body burns fat as its primary fuel rather than glucose (sugar). Mounting research suggests nutritional ketosis is the answer to a long list of health problems, starting with obesity.
In fact, emerging scientific evidence suggests a high-fat, low-net carb and low- to moderate-protein diet (in other words, a diet that keeps you in nutritional ketosis) is ideal for most people.
In fact, endurance athletes are turning away from conventional high-carb strategies and adopting this way of eating because it boosts physical stamina and endurance.
Beyond insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, there are a number of applications for nutritional ketosis, including as a treatment for seizures, especially in kids who are unresponsive to drugs, and in neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Cancer is another area where ketogenic diets show great promise.
Other benefits include fewer hunger pangs and a dramatic drop in food cravings once you’ve made the shift from burning sugar to burning fat as your primary fuel. Being an efficient fat burner may also boost your longevity. Researchers have identified about a dozen genes associated with longevity.
According to Jeff Volek, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and professor in the Human Science Department at Ohio State University, who has done enormous work in the field of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets and has authored several books on this topic, the primary function of one of these genes is to cripple the degradation of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), such as leucine.
Preventing this degradation can help preserve your muscle mass.1 BCAAs have other benefits as well: In a number of studies involving middle-aged animal models, adding BCAAs increased muscle and cardiac mitochondrial biogenesis (the creation of new mitochondria), improving both health span and longevity.
Interestingly, BCAAs are very similar in structure to ketones — energy molecules created by your liver from fats — and ketones seem to be preferentially metabolized.
In other words, ketones spare those branched-chain amino acids, leaving higher levels of them in circulation while also helping you retain muscle mass and promoting longevity.
Ketones — A Healthy, Clean-Burning Fuel
The primary reason that so many people are overweight and/or in poor health these days is that the Westernized diet is overloaded with non-fiber carbs as the primary fuel, which in turn inhibit your body’s ability to access and burn body fat.
High-quality fats, meanwhile, are a far preferable fuel, as they are utilized far more efficiently than carbs. When you burn fat as your primary fuel, your respiratory quotient (the amount of oxygen you need) typically goes down,2 which is a sign that your metabolism is running more efficiently.
How to Enter Into Nutritional Ketosis
The most efficient way to train your body to use fat for fuel is to remove most of the sugars and starches from your diet, and that’s true for everyone, whether you’re an elite athlete or a sedentary diabetic. At the same time, you’ll want to replace those carbs with healthy fats.
A dietary intake of about 50 grams or less per day of net carbs while also keeping protein low-to-moderate is usually low enough to allow you to make the shift to nutritional ketosis (the metabolic state associated with an increased production of ketones in your liver; i.e., the biological reflection of being able to burn fat).
This is only a generalization, as each person responds to foods in a different way. Some people can enter into full ketosis while eating as much as 70 to 80 grams of non-fiber carbs. Others, especially if you’re insulin resistant or have type 2 diabetes, may require less than 40 grams, or even as little as 30 grams per day, to get there.
To find your personal carb target, it’s important to measure not just your blood glucose but also your ketones, which can be done either through urine, breath or blood.
This will give you an objective measure of whether or not you’re truly in ketosis, rather than just relying on counting the grams of carbohydrates you consume. Nutritional ketosis is defined as blood ketones that stay in the range of 0.5 to 3.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
That said, using a nutrient tracker will radically improve your ability to understand how much and what kind of foods help you to keep to your ketogenic diet nutrient targets while also helping you to assess the nutrient value of your food choices.
My first choice is Cronometer.com/mercola. That's my upgrade to the basic Cronometer nutrient tracker, and the default is set to macronutrient levels that will support nutritional ketosis.
Avoid Milk and Consider MCT Oil
Aside from added sugars and grains, it is best to avoid milk for the time being, as it can be difficult to stay in ketosis if you eat or drink a lot of it.
The galactose in milk is a carbohydrate and you can easily exceed your net carb allotment by drinking a single glass of milk. Casein, the primary protein in milk, can also trigger or contribute to inflammation.
When you keep net carbs low, your body switches to burning fat for fuel and your liver begins to convert some of that fat into ketone bodies. This is endogenous production, meaning that they are made by your body from your fat stores or from the fats in the foods that you eat.
You can boost your level of ketones by taking them in supplement form, but these exogenous ketones (made in a lab, not in your body) are not likely to be as beneficial unless you are already “low carb.” Food oils such as medium chain triglyceride (MCT) coconut oil can also be used to mildly increase ketone levels.
Ketogenic Diet Has Long Track Record of Use for Epileptic Seizures
Authority Nutrition reviews 15 health conditions shown to respond favorably to a ketogenic diet,3 and that’s likely a short list.
Based on my understanding of mitochondrial health and metabolic function, a vast majority of health conditions could fall into this category. One of the conditions for which a ketogenic diet has the longest and best documented track record is epilepsy.
This diet has been effectively used to treat drug resistant epileptic seizures since the 1920s,4 and studies have confirmed it’s helpful for both children and adults.
In my view, it would be wise to implement a ketogenic diet as a first-line therapy, but in conventional medicine, it’s typically not considered or recommended unless the patient fails to respond to medication.
Even then, this conversation may have to be initiated by the patient, or the parent of a child with seizures. As noted in the featured article:5
“Research shows that seizures typically improve in about 50 percent of epilepsy patients who follow the classic ketogenic diet. This is also known as a 4:1 ketogenic diet because it provides four times as much fat as protein and carbs combined.
The modified Atkins diet (MAD) is based on a considerably less restrictive 1:1 ratio of fat to protein and carbs. It has been shown to be equally effective for seizure control in most adults and children older than two years of age.”
Nutritional Ketosis Improves Your Brain Health
Your brain will work better in general when burning fat rather than glucose, as fat has been shown to be both neurotherapeutic and neuroprotective. While fats are unable to cross the blood brain barrier, ketones, being water-soluble fats, can cross it and feed your brain. They also appear to lower markers of systemic inflammation, such as IL-6 and others. Many times, improved cognition and mental acuity are among the first things people notice when entering nutritional ketosis.
Ketones are the preferred source of energy for your brain in general, but especially for those affected by diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s and maybe even ALS, because in these diseases certain neurons have become insulin resistant or have lost the ability to efficiently utilize glucose, which causes the neurons to die off. When ketones are present, these neurons have a better chance of surviving and thriving.
In one study, Parkinson’s patients who followed a 4-to-1 ketogenic diet experienced, on average, a 43 percent improvement in their symptoms after one month.6 For Alzheimer’s, supplementing with MCT oil appears to be particularly beneficial.7,8
Studies also support the use of nutritional ketosis for autism. As noted in the featured article, “Autism shares some features with epilepsy, and many people with autism experience seizures related to the over-excitement of brain cells.” Research shows nutritional ketosis helps dampen this excessive activity; in one pilot study,9 a majority of autistic children showed improvement after following a cyclical ketogenic diet for six months.
Unlike blood glucose, blood ketones do not stimulate an insulin surge. They also do not need insulin to help them cross cell membranes, including neuronal membranes. Instead, they use simple diffusion, so they can even enter cells that have become insulin resistant. This is likely one of the reasons nutritional ketosis works so well for a variety of neurological problems and diseases. It even shows promise for:
- Migraine headaches: Following a ketogenic diet for four weeks has been shown to reduce migraine frequency and lower the use of pain medication.10,11
- Traumatic brain injuries: Animal studies suggest it can help reduce brain swelling, improve motor function and speed up recovery, although it appears more effective in the young than the old. Human studies still need to validate these findings.12
Metabolic Conditions Improve on Ketogenic Diet
Nutritional ketosis is also indicated for obesity, metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) and diabetes. This is not surprising, considering the fact that one of its beneficial effects is correcting insulin resistance. If you meet at least three of the following criteria, you may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or elevated fasting blood sugar. Nutritional ketosis has been shown to improve most of these.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, has also been shown to improve on a low-carb diet high in healthy fats. In one study,13 obese men diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and NAFLD showed significant improvement in their weight, blood pressure, liver enzymes and liver fat after four months on a ketogenic diet; 21 percent completely resolved their NAFLD.
Glycogen storage disease (GSD) and glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) deficiency syndrome are two other conditions for which a ketogenic diet is a literal life saver. GSD is characterized by a lack of an enzyme that helps store glucose as glycogen or break glycogen down into glucose. The exact form of the disease depends on which enzyme in question that’s lacking. As noted by Authority Nutrition:
“GSD patients are often advised to consume high-carb foods at frequent intervals so glucose is always available to the body. However, early research suggests that a ketogenic diet may benefit people with some forms of GSD, [for example] GSD III, also known as Forbes-Cori disease … [and] GSD V, also known as McArdle disease … "
In GLUT1 deficiency syndrome (a rare genetic disease), you lack a protein that helps shuttle blood sugar into your brain. Seizures and impaired motor skills are two common symptoms that typically manifest shortly after birth. The benefit of a ketogenic diet is quite apparent in this case, as ketones do not need this protein in order to enter your brain. Hence ketones are an ideal fuel for GLUT1 deficient people, allowing their brains to function more normally.
Hormonal and Nervous System Disorders May Improve on Ketogenic Diet
Your hormone regulation and nervous system may also benefit from being an effective fat burner. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are two conditions that appear to respond well to this switch in primary fuel. PCOS, which puts women at an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, diabetes, infertility, coronary artery syndrome, lipid disorders (such as elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure) and possibly breast cancer, is characterized by:
- Hyperinsulinemia (insulin resistance with elevated serum insulin levels)
- Increased androgen (male hormone) production, causing facial hair and/or acne
- The complete or almost complete lack of ovulation
In one study,14 women diagnosed with PCOS who followed a ketogenic diet for six months lost an average of 12 percent of their body weight and reduced their fasting insulin by an average of 54 percent. Levels of sex hormones also showed improvement, and 2 of the 11 women were able to get pregnant despite a history of infertility.
MS, an autoimmune disease, results in damage to the myelin sheath (the protective nerve covering), causing symptoms such as numbness, loss of balance and declining motor function, as well as vision and memory problems. As noted in the featured article: “One study15 of MS in a mouse model found that a ketogenic diet suppressed inflammatory markers. The reduced inflammation led to improvements in memory, learning and physical function.”
Nutritional Ketosis May Be the Key to Cancer Prevention
Cancer is a devastating disease, and today it’s hard to find anyone whose life hasn’t been affected in some way by this disease. In fact, it’s become one of the leading causes of death around the world. What’s worse, the medical profession is largely ignorant of the fact that most cancers are rooted in metabolic and mitochondrial dysfunction, and hence the conventional prevention recommendations do little to nothing to quell the tide of cancer diagnoses.
It is my belief, as well as that of many of the experts I have interviewed, that over 90 percent of cancer cases are either preventable or treatable. The key is recognizing that cancer is really a mitochondrial metabolic disease, rooted in poor diet choices combined with a toxic lifestyle.
Viewing cancer as a metabolic disease — opposed to a disease of damaged DNA, which is a downstream effect of mitochondrial dysfunction — gives us the power to control this dysfunction by carefully choosing foods and nutrients and employing strategies that help optimize the biochemical pathways that suppress cancer growth while simultaneously stimulating mechanisms to push it into remission.
Nutritional ketosis has received a lot of attention by cancer researchers in recent years, and many studies show it has great potential not just as a form of cancer prevention but also treatment — in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.16 Research is looking at whether non-toxic metabolic therapies and drug cocktails may be just as effective, with less toxicity.
In fact, according to Dr. Thomas Seyfried, who is one of the leading academic researchers of nutritional interventions for cancer, the mechanism by which the ketogenic diet manages cancer is far clearer and more readily understood than the way the ketogenic diet manages epileptic seizures. This is ironic considering that it's barely recognized, let alone applied, within oncology circles, while it's been an accepted treatment for epilepsy since the 1920s.
The central premise is that since cancer cells need glucose and insulin to thrive, lowering the glucose level in your blood though carb and protein restriction literally starves the cancer cells. Additionally, low protein intake tends to dampen the mTOR pathway that is often responsible for accelerating cell proliferation.
Correcting Metabolic Dysfunction and Optimizing Mitochondrial Health Paves the Way for a Long, Healthy Life
I have come to recognize that mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of what is causing your system to go haywire. You have thousands of mitochondria in nearly all of your cells and they generate around 90 percent of the energy you need for health and survival.
When large numbers of them cease to function properly, your body can no longer function as intended, setting you up for developing any number of diseases. For some, it may manifest as diabetes or heart disease; in others, it shows up as cancer or some form of neurodegenerative disease.
The remedy lies in optimizing your mitochondrial function and correcting the metabolic dysfunctions of insulin and leptin resistance. Here, we have focused on the benefits of a ketogenic diet, which means eating foods high in healthy fats, with moderate protein and low net carbs (think non-fiber carbs).
The choices you make in dietary fats are really critical, as fatty acids contribute to the formation of cellular membranes, and it’s virtually impossible to have optimal biological function with impaired cell membranes. So dietary fat serves two purposes; first, as a fuel, but also as the building blocks for the structural components of your body.
Most Americans unknowingly consume large quantities of harmful fats, like processed vegetable oils, which contribute to your deterioration over time. So when I talk about dietary fats, I’m referring to natural, unprocessed fat, found in whole foods like seeds, nuts, butter, olives, avocado, coconut oil, raw cacao or cacao butter. But also remember that MCT oil has some great health benefits as well.
Other Strategies That Promote Healthy Fat Burning
Two other strategies that will help you make the transition from burning sugar to burning fat as your primary fuel are:
• Extended or intermittent fasting, such as Peak Fasting. Intermittent fasting is an alternative to extended fasts. While I used to recommend skipping breakfast and making lunch your first meal, I eventually learned that for most, skipping dinner is a far more effective strategy.
This is because you are the least metabolically active while you are sleeping, so the last thing you want to do is add fuel you don’t need in the evening. Doing so will simply generate excess dangerous free radicals.
However, this may be enormously challenging for most people to implement. It’s easy for most people in nutritional ketosis to skip breakfast because they’re not hungry anyway but skipping dinner may seem more like a hardship. Most people view breakfast as an obligation and dinner as more of a social event. If you can’t skip dinner, allow at least three to six hours between this last meal and bedtime.
The challenge then becomes to determine the most appropriate time to eat your breakfast. I wear a 24-hour glucose monitor and I have learned that I can pin-point the ideal time to break my fast by tracking my glucose. You can, too, even without this specialized monitor. Simply measure your glucose at regular intervals in the morning, and when you notice your glucose level rising, even though you haven’t eaten, it’s a sign you’re undergoing gluconeogenesis.
Basically, your body is starting to break down protein (muscle), turning it into glucose. This is not a healthy process, so when this occurs, you’ll want to eat something to avoid muscle degeneration. In my experience, that will typically occur after 16 hours of fasting or so, although it’s highly individual. If you’re a competitive athlete, this strategy may not be appropriate, but it could work for most average people.
• Exercising is a great way to increase mitochondrial repair and regeneration as it is a potent stimulus of PGC1 alpha which is likely the most potent stimulus in your body for mitochondrial biogenesis.
Ketogenic Diet May Be Key to Cancer Recovery
Why Low-Carb Diets May Be Ideal for Most People, Including Athletes
By Dr. Mercola
Closely related to mint and oregano, thyme is an evergreen herb that's had scores of uses over millennia, stemming most often from adding zest to foods and as an ancient medicinal.
Traditional therapies often involved thyme in different forms to relieve chest congestion and coughs. Greeks and Romans consumed it both as an antidote for poison and to prevent the plague.
In the Middle Ages, people placed thyme under pillows to inhibit nightmares and in their baths to purify themselves for religious rites. The Romans believed it could impart energy and valor, even sprinkling it in cheese and alcohol to prevent the doldrums.
In some early cultures, thyme was tucked in hats and pockets to help overcome fear, prior to battle or asking a father for his daughter's hand, and exchanged by Roman soldiers as a token of respect. That's how thyme came to be associated with courage and bravery.
As it turns out, there are good reasons for all these uses. Today, clinical studies indicate there's a long list of highly effective uses for health, including:
✓ Pain relief of cramps, headaches and body aches
✓ Respiratory ailments
✓ Food contamination prevention and remediation
✓ Antibacterial and wound healer
✓ Oral health
✓ Microbial and food preservative
From the Beginning: Thyme
To explore the word's origins, we need to go back — literally — to its southern Mediterranean roots.
The Oxford Dictionary says the Latin form of "thyme" was derived from the Greek word "thumon," associated with the words "burn" and "sacrifice." Then again, an ancient Greek form, "thumus," denotes courage. The Old French "thym," circa the 1400s, is closer to the Middle English pronunciation we use today.
From Native American sacred herb-burning rituals called smudging to the Greek and Roman tradition of leaving smoking bundles of thyme in homes and temples for purification, this herb was close to every aspect of life and death. Greeks believed its incense could ward off evil. In fact, one of its original meanings was "to fumigate."
Egyptians, for whom the word "tham" meant "fragrant," used it for mummification, completely unaware that thyme contains the compound thymol, which has strong bactericidal and fungicidal properties.
Regarding the purification rites that took place long before there were any studies available, it's interesting that the Sumerians who lived in the first Mesopotamian civilization in around 2700 B.C. used thyme as an antiseptic.
We'll probably never know how many of our ancestors' lives were saved because, during the Black Death that swept through Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Africa in the mid-1300s, killing around 75 million, people used thyme for both relief and protection.
Garlands of thyme and other herbs were worn around the neck, and poultices were effective for easing blisters. These measures must have been effective. Clear through the Victorian era, nurses soaked used cloth bandages in a solution of thyme, which disinfected them.
Thymus Vulgaris: What Thyme Is It?
Botanically, there are more than 400 types of Thymus vulgaris, but few are suitable for culinary use. Most are ornamental, but they appear very similar. Pleasantly fragrant thyme varieties for the kitchen are French, caraway and lemon.
One of the best aspects for herbal gardeners (if you'll pardon yet another pun) is that thyme literally takes care of itself.
Other than removing dried leaves that may be nestling around it, springtime demands only sunshine and nearly any amount of water for perennial herbal bounty. Only when the soil is thoroughly dry do you need to worry about giving it a good drink.
At its seasonal peak, thyme has elongated teardrop-shaped leaves in shades of olive, silvery green or even bronze. Left to themselves (because you should harvest beforehand) they also bear a sprinkling of tiny, delicate, pink, lavender or white blossoms.
Gardeners love thyme for its ability to thrive between rocks and flagstone, or in containers, creeping, climbing or spraying in lush profusion. It grows quickly, so allow for that — 12 to 24 inches apart is good — if you're setting it among other garden vegetables or herbs.
'A Thyme for Every Purpose Under Heaven'
As the song goes, there's a time for everything. But no matter the era or culture, health inevitably takes top priority for optimal quality of life. That's why thyme and other herbs had a revered place in medicine troves from Native Americans to primordial Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Although ancient civilizations may not have known why, thyme has a powerful and diverse set of nutrients that explains its value in treating and preventing disease. One study reported:
"It was (shown) that the essential oil of thyme and the compound thymol have antimicrobial activity in vitro against E. coli strains … (and) also highlights the potential use of the essential oil of thyme as a substitute for artificial inhibitors of food spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms."1
A team of microbiologists published findings from another trial revealing thyme's effectiveness on a MRSA superbug, which annihilated the bacteria within two hours with no effect to surrounding skin.3
Reviews have also noted that herbal preparations of thyme may be a more effective treatment for acne than prescription creams, with greater antibacterial effect than benzoyl peroxide but, again, without the skin irritation.
Regarding the use of thyme to treat depression or Alzheimer's, a Science Daily study reported:
"Apigenin, a substance found in parsley, thyme, chamomile and red pepper, improves neuron formation and strengthens the connections between brain cells, new lab research demonstrates …
Apigenin works by binding to estrogen receptors, which affect the development, maturation, function, and plasticity of the nervous system.
This group of hormones is known to delay the onset of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease."4
Nutritional attributes of thyme include impressive amounts of vitamin C and K, as well as vitamin A, fiber, riboflavin, iron, copper and manganese. You'll also find calcium, manganese, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. You'll note several of those ingredients as helpful for colds, sore throats and coughs.
Germany's Commission E, a governmental agency that oversees the use of herbs used for medicine, has approved the use of thyme for respiratory tract infections, including whooping cough and bronchitis.
In fact, the Swiss "herb drop" company at ricola.com5 has designated thyme as the "strongest" of its top 10 "magic" herbs. Here's one reason why:
"Thymol, the main component of Thyme, is regarded as a very effective disinfectant. This is presumably the reason why it is still used to clean patients' rooms or old buildings.
The bitters have an astringent action. Legend has it that this harnesses strength and courage. The tannins additionally repair injured mucous membrane, so that strengths are not drained."
The site also reveals:
"Renowned herbalist and pioneer of folk remedies, Pfarrer Künzle, described the plant as follows, 'An excellent herb in teas to treat stomach complaints and cleanse the lungs of mucous. Let the steam an infusion of Thyme run through the ears and nasal passages to strengthen the nerves of the ears, nose and brain and prevent fainting and strokes. A compress of Thyme also helps you get a good night's sleep.'"
It's About Thyme
A site dedicated to cancer prevention, called Eat to Beat Cancer,6 states:
"The essential oils of thyme contain up to 54 [percent] thymol, a natural phenol, which is very aromatic. Some thyme varieties have hints of oregano because they also contain carvacrol which is the essential oil of oregano. In addition to its pleasant aroma and distinct flavor, thymol is a biocide, with antiseptic and medicinal properties."
Studies show that thyme increases the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in the brains of animals in studies, which may mean thyme can heighten brain function in the elderly as well as in children with attention deficit disorder. Eat to Beat Cancer adds:
"Thyme is rich in anrtiangiogenic phenol content, including apigenin, luteolin, eriodictyol, rosmarinic acid and quercetin. Luteolin is the primary phenolic compound in thyme that confers anti-angiogenic and anti-cancer properties. In an epidemiological study including over 66,000 women, women in the highest quintile of luteolin consumption were found to have a 34 [percent] decrease in ovarian cancer incidence compared to those in the lowest quintile.
In laboratory studies, luteolin inhibited human ovarian cancer cell proliferation and decreased the expression of the angiogenic growth factor, VEGF. Other studies suggest this VEGF-inhibiting activity is dependent on the particular aromatic ring structure of luteolin and other similar phenolic compounds. In both skin cancer cells and mouse models, luteolin inhibited ultraviolet radiation-induced skin cancers."
Thyme in a Bottle for Culinary Diversity
Of course thyme is a versatile herb used all by itself or in combination with other aromatic plants to enhance specific dishes. Bouquet garni of French origin, for instance, is created by tying sprigs of fresh thyme together with parsley and bay leaves for flavorful stews and soup stock.
Ground rosemary and fennel seeds combined with thyme, oregano, marjoram, lavender, basil, parsley and tarragon make the classic Herbs de Provence for savory fish, chicken, beef and pork dishes and roasted vegetables.
An easy salad dressing recipe featuring thyme is 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped thyme leaves with 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper over your greens. As a variation, 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese adds extra dimension. You can also simply sprinkle it in soups, scrambled eggs and sautéed vegetables for delicious variety.
In fact, research shows it's a good idea to include thyme and other herbs with antimicrobial constituents in your salads. One study7 reported that thyme essential oil decontaminated lettuce inoculated with the infectious organism Shigella, which causes intestinal damage and diarrhea.
Researchers said even the low concentration of 1 percent lowered the number of Shigella bacteria to undetectable levels, and concluded that adding fresh thyme to dressing enhances the flavor but also allows you to eat your fresh produce without worrying.
Saving Thyme — Otherwise Known as Propagation
How serendipitous is it that this herb can be more than just attractive, but incorporated as part of your plan, like Hippocrates said, to consider "food as your medicine and medicine as your food?" The best part is that you can easily grow it yourself. Even if space is an issue, you can grow it in a container and set it in a window for fresh clippings or drying.
Once it's established, there are a few different ways of "spreading the love" of thyme, depending on your climate. These are best done in the spring a few weeks after the last frost, or when the soil reaches around 70 degrees.
- One — Propagate from cuttings. Snip a 3- or 4-inch sprig of thyme, douse it in rooting hormone (available at nearly any garden center) and plant in vermiculite or clean sand. In about six weeks, you can transfer it to a small pot for a root ball to form before transferring to its final resting place in your garden or large pot.
- Two — Propagate by layering. After cutting a long tendril from the stem, position it on the soil where you want it to grow using U-shaped metal stakes that resemble long, sturdy staples to hold it close to the earth and allowing 4 inches at the tip to grow at will. In about four weeks, roots will form along the stem. At this point, cut the stem away from the "mother" plant for transfer.
Just in Thyme Chicken Salad
- 2 cups dark-meat chicken, cooked & chopped
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 stalks organic celery, chopped
- Small handful organic fresh Italian parsley, chopped (may also use curly parsley)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup fresh, raw cream
- 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
- Splash of organic olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Place chicken, cashews, celery, parsley, thyme and onion in medium-sized bowl. Add lemon juice, raw cream and mustard (the secret ingredient). Add a splash of organic olive oil and mix well.
10 Spices, Herbs That Aid Weight Loss
What Are the Health Benefits of Oregano?
By Dr. Mercola
While multiple companies manufacture and market "new and improved" FMCGs — fast- moving consumer goods — that we use every day, such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant and body lotion, one of the best and most natural products has been right under our noses, so to speak.
Coconut oil has a pleasant scent, and besides being very economical, it's an amazingly versatile and therapeutic substance. Since the mid-1990s, roughly, coconut oil for a number of applications, such as cleansing, deodorizing and healing, has been growing on the larger population.
Questions like "Where does coconut oil actually come from?" and "What does it smell like?" are apropos. Coconut oil, like butter, is a solid substance, melting to a liquid form when it reaches about 76 degrees.
Insoluble at room temperature, it takes on a creamy consistency when blended with water using a whisk. If not treated to processes such as bleaching, refining or deodorizing, coconut oil exudes the mild fragrance you would expect — like coconut.
2 Kinds of Coconut Oil — Commercial Grade and Virgin
The relatively recent interest in the many uses of coconut oil also elicits questions regarding its production. There are two basic types: Commercial-grade and virgin coconut oil.
Commercial grade coconut oil — This product is made from copra, which is the dried meat of the coconut. It's usually smoke-, sun- or kiln-dried or a combination of the three. But when standard copra is used to make coconut oil, it's not sterile and therefore unsuitable for human consumption.
It's "purified" or refined through a process known as RBD — refined, bleached and deodorized. According to Coconutdiet.com:1
"High heat is used to deodorize the oil, and the oil is typically filtered through (bleaching) clays to remove impurities. Sodium hydroxide is generally used to remove free fatty acids and prolong shelf life.
This is the most common way to mass-produce coconut oil. The older way of producing refined coconut oil was through physical/mechanical refining. More modern methods also use chemical solvents to extract all the oil from the copra for higher yields."
Virgin coconut oil — In comparison, like olive oil, coconut oil is best when "first-pressed" and "virgin." Like pressing a teabag that's been steeping in boiled water a few minutes, the first water released will contain the most actual extracts.
The second time it's pressed, as in the teabag analogy, the result isn't as concentrated. Coconutdiet.com continues:
"Virgin Coconut Oil can only be achieved by using fresh coconut meat or what is called non-copra. Chemicals and high heating are not used in further refining, since the natural, pure coconut oil is very stable with a shelf life of several years.
There are currently two main processes of manufacturing Virgin Coconut Oil:
- Quick drying of fresh coconut meat which is then used to press out the oil. Using this method, minimal heat is used to quick dry the coconut meat, and the oil is then pressed out via mechanical means.
- Wet-milling. With this method, the oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat without drying first. 'Coconut milk' is expressed first by pressing.
The oil is then further separated from the water. Methods which can be used to separate the oil from the water include boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes and mechanical centrifuge."
Why Keep Coconut Oil in the Bathroom?
Raw, organic coconut oil, besides being good enough to eat (which we'll discuss in a minute) has a plethora of benefits apart from actual ingestion. Here's a list of 15 benefits of coconut oil, in no particular order:
1. Smooth shave — If you've been plagued by red, irritated and razor-burned skin after shaving, coconut oil is both soothing and antibacterial.
2. Rash recovery — Other rash problems from diaper rash to mild allergic reactions can be remedied using coconut oil. Propylene glycol is one chemical found in commercial moisturizers that can cause skin irritation and dermatitis.
3. Lip balm — Use coconut oil to moisturize, nourish and hydrate chapped lips without inadvertently eating endocrine disruptors.
A study on the metal content in lip balm revealed lead, aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese in high concentrations, some associated with reproductive, developmental or other adverse health effects.2
4. Facial cleanser — Effective as a face wash, mixing equal parts coconut oil and castor oil is known as oil cleansing. Massage it into your skin and remove gently with a warm washcloth.
Ninety percent of the body washes and cleansers you buy contain harmful chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, which, in combination with other chemicals, can form cancer-causing nitrosamines.3 Coconut oil can even improve acne.
5. Makeup remover — Not only can you cleanse your face, you can remove use it as a natural makeup remover — even stubborn mascara and eyeliner.
6. Night cream — While you may not want to use coconut oil under makeup, applying it lightly before bed will hydrate your skin because its fatty acids form a natural emollient. If the skin around your nails is hard and peeling, treat your cuticles to a soothing coconut oil rub to keep them soft.
7. Deodorant — A tiny dab of coconut mixed, if you desire, with an essential oil such as lavender is very effective — so much better than the antiperspirants containing aluminum, which is linked to Alzheimer's.
Another deodorant recipe combines 3 tablespoons each of coconut oil, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) and baking soda.
8. Foot fungus fighter — Because it's antimicrobial and antibacterial, coconut is very effective in combating athlete's foot. Rub it on the bottoms of your feet after every shower.
Antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal compounds in coconut oil have been shown to inactivate microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and fungi.4
9. Soothing bath — As an alternative to bubble baths that may induce urinary tract infections, especially in children, drop a dollop of coconut oil in your bath with a few essential oils. It's both moisturizing and helps kill bacteria.
10. Body scrub — Combining equal parts coconut oil with sea salt, sugar or baking soda to make a homemade scrub softens, smoothes and moisturizes your skin.
11. Body lotion — Moisturizers you buy at the store typically contain harmful chemicals such as aluminum, phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde and propylene glycol.5 Coconut is a fragrant, moisturizing alternative containing none of these.
12. Toothpaste — To combat tooth decay and even whiten teeth, make a DIY coconut oil toothpaste by mixing 1 teaspoon with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 2 drops of peppermint essential oil. Just brush as usual.
13. Oil pulling — An oral rinse works much like a mouthwash, only you shouldn't gargle with it. As you swish vigorously for five to 15 minutes, it penetrates the soft tissue between your gums and "pulls out" bacteria that causes cavities, plaque and bad breath.
14. When applied to infected cuts or wounds, coconut oil develops a layer of naturally protective chemicals that also keep out dust, fungi, bacteria and viruses. Applied to bruises, it speeds up the healing process in damaged tissues.
15. Frizz fighter — People with hair that tends to frizz often turn to silicone- or alcohol-based gels and mousses, which coat the hair, prevent it from absorbing moisture and dries out the hair shaft. Just a few drops of coconut oil are all you need for a natural hair conditioner for smooth, silky shine.
Healing Properties of Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil has been described as having a "haunting, nutty, vanilla flavor (and) even milder and richer-tasting than butter." A New York Times article noted that coconut oil, while once demonized by the "all saturated fats are bad for you" camp, has now become accepted:
"The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two.
… Any number of health claims have been made for lauric acid. According to proponents, it's a wonder substance with possible antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral properties that could also, in theory, combat H.I.V., clear up acne and speed up your metabolism."6
Even applied topically, coconut oil has healing properties. One interesting factoid is that while antiperspirants containing aluminum are associated with Alzheimer's, coconut oil actually prevents it because of the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) that are easily absorbed and metabolized by the liver and can convert to ketones. One study noted:
"Ketone bodies are an important alternative energy source in the brain, and may be beneficial to people developing or already with memory impairment, as in Alzheimer's disease (AD) … (It may also) be beneficial in the treatment of obesity, dyslipidaemia, elevated LDL, insulin resistance and hypertension — these are the risk factors for (heart disease) and type 2 diabetes, and also for AD."7
Alzheimer's is projected to affect 1 in 4 Americans in the next generation, rivaling obesity and diabetes, but evidence suggests that ketone bodies in coconut oil may help restore and renew neurons and nerve function in your brain, even after damage has set in.
Unhealthy Alternatives to Coconut Oil
Regarding coconut oil in the kitchen, even as a household cleaner, there are a few points to consider:
• Virgin coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees, so for cooking, it's best used at lower temperatures. Olive oil overcooks even as low as 250 degrees, which may cause oxidization, doing your body more harm than good.
• You can substitute coconut oil for butter or olive oil, and most definitely instead of so-called vegetable oils. Here's why:
Multiple studies reveal coconut oil to impart amazing benefits when used in nutritional applications. One of the most dramatic changes you can make in your health will be to replace the so-called "healthy" vegetable, soy, corn and cottonseed oils such as canola when sautéing food or baking cake or cookies.
It's interesting to note that Polynesian populations, who've been using full-fat coconut oil as a diet staple for untold generations, have no heart disease to speak of. Why? It's a direct contradiction to what conventional medicine touted for a few decades, that saturated fats are bad for you, and will lead to obesity, high cholesterol levels, heart disease and Alzheimer's.
The truth is, saturated fat like that of coconut oil and olive oil is natural, not the concocted substances created in a laboratory using methods like hydrogenation and partial hydrogenation that convert polyunsaturated fatty acids to trans fats. Vegetable and seed oils undergo the double whammy of hydrogen atoms and high heat, creating a cheaper oil with a long shelf life that's very bad for your health.
Further, when vegetable oils are heated to a high temperature, the chemical compounds break down, get "stuck" in your cells, oxidize and create dangerous free radicals that lead to disease, including heart disease and cancer. Here's a timeless article on the type of oil you should cook with.
Coconut Oil for Hair: Use this Food for a New Level of Luster
Eating Coconut Oil May Be "First Drug-Free Way" to Fight Off Candida Yeast
By Dr. Mercola
An estimated 6 million Americans are vegans, which is typically considered to be a healthy choice. However, there are drawbacks to strict veganism that need careful consideration.
Mara Kahn, author of "Vegan Betrayal: Love, Lies, and Hunger in a Plants-Only World," delves deep into the history and science of veganism, revealing many oft-ignored facts about this strictly plant-based diet.
She’s put together a compelling story, covering her personal journey from being a vegan and vegetarian to exploring diet and health and finding out the truth behind the hype. It’s really the best book I’ve ever read on this topic, as it covers the vegan issues in their entirety.
"Even though my book is titled 'Vegan Betrayal,' I do respect vegans and what they’re trying to do. My own journey led me back to vegetarianism. I know that many … vegetarians that became vegans … are suffering from diminished strength and faltering health.
I think this is a topic which has been swept under the rug and it’s not being openly discussed in the vegan community. I think it’s very important that we start this discussion. I hope this book will help kick-start that really important dialogue,” Kahn says.
Veganism Has No Historical Support for Its Health Claims
While I would never argue with anyone who decides to be a vegan for philosophical, spiritual or ethical reasons, I believe it's important to consider and address the risks if you're jumping into veganism for its purported health benefits alone.
Surveys show ethical considerations are the primary reason people convert to vegetarianism or veganism. But as Kahn reveals in her book, veganism is not the only ethical diet. She also presents compelling arguments that it's not a historically validated diet.
Kahn became a vegetarian at age 19, while traveling in Europe. She became an overnight convert after meeting a young vegan woman who Kahn refers to as “a beautiful specimen of humanity” and “extremely healthy” — not realizing this same woman would return to eating meat just five years later due to fading energy.
Up to that time, Kahn had eaten a very meat-based American-style diet, including bacon and hamburgers. At that time, in the 1970s, veganism was largely unheard of. It didn't get a strong hold in the U.S. until the 1980s.
Interestingly enough, Kahn’s investigation reveals there doesn’t appear to be a single cultural group in the history of the world who actually survived long-term on an exclusively plant-based diet. So from a health perspective, there’s very little historical support for the strict veganism idealized today.
"I did a thorough research of the history of vegetarianism. In fact, I spent almost six years researching this book. I'm a journalist … I love to dig deep," Kahn says.
"At this point, it's really important that we distinguish between vegetarianism and veganism. Vegetarianism has a very long and honorable history. It goes back at least 2,500 years to Greece, and much further than that in the Indus Valley, India and that part of the world.
It has proven itself to be a viable diet … [Yet even] in the Northern parts of India, the Kashmir regions, they eat meat because the climate is so different in the mountainous regions of North India.
Vegetarianism has a very long and noble history with verified health results. However, veganism … is a non-historical diet … Its health benefits are not verified.
There were scattered enclaves of religious people that lived cloistered lives who probably did follow a vegan diet … but these were very, very tiny populations, and we have no idea if they were healthy and how long they lived.”
There Are Short-Term Benefits to Veganism, but Long-Term Risks
From a historical perspective, veganism is a very recent development. The roots of veganism go back to England, when in 1944, Donald Watson coined the term “vegan.” Watson’s primary argument for veganism was one of ethics. At the age of 14, he’d witnessed the slaughter of a pig, which left him horrified.
Immediately, he decided to stop eating meat and wanted the whole world to follow suit, despite having no training in nutrition. Veganism is based on ideology, not human physiology, Kahn reminds us in her book, which also delves into human evolution.
Part of the confusion is that many vegans appear quite healthy in the earlier stages. This isn't so surprising when you consider the fact that many switch from processed foods to a mostly raw plant-based diet. The influx of live foods will undoubtedly improve your health.
However, in the long term, the absence of all animal-based foods can take a toll, as certain nutrients cannot be obtained from the plant kingdom. Carnosine, carnitine, taurine, retinol, vitamin D3, conjugated linoleic acid and long-chained omega-3 fats are examples. B12 deficiency is also very common among vegans.
After six or seven years, the B12 stored in your liver will be completely exhausted, at which point you may start to experience serious neurodegenerative diseases. There are many documented cases of blindness from B12 deficiency, as well as other neurological disorders.
Historically, Vegetarianism Always Included Some Animal Foods
Vegetarianism typically allows both dairy and eggs. Back in Pythagoras’ days, early Western vegetarians also ate fish. (Today, this “branch” of vegetarianism is sometimes separated out and referred to as pescetarianism.)
My passion has been identifying food to optimize health and I'm absolutely convinced that seafood is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, primarily because of its docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content — a 22-carbon omega-3 fat that is absolutely essential for your health, as it's a structural component of your cell membranes.
If you have low DHA levels, it's almost physiologically impossible to be healthy because it's such an important part of energy generation at the molecular level. You need DHA, which is only found in fatty fish and certain other marine animals like krill.
There's even quantum physics going on with respect to its ability to capture light and integrate it into your system. For example, DHA in your retinal pigmented epithelium is responsible for converting sunlight into vital DC electric current your body needs. If you're deficient, your ability to generate energy by your mitochondria will be impaired.
Granted, water pollution is a major concern today, so you have to eat really low on the food chain. Anchovies, sardines, herring, wild Alaskan salmon, fish roe and krill are all good choices as they're high in omega-3s while being low in mercury and other pollutants.
Like It or Not, You Need Marine-Based DHA
If you exclude these foods, you're just not going to be healthy. And contrary to popular belief, you simply cannot obtain all the DHA you need from plant sources. Plant-based omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) has 18 carbons whereas marine-based omega-3s (DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA) have 22 and 20 respectively. The difference in the length of the carbon chain makes a significant difference in terms of functionality.
ALA functions as a source of fuel (food), whereas EPA and DHA are structural elements. More than 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in your brain tissue is DHA, which suggests how important it is for healthy neurological function, for example.
The problem is that, although your body can convert some of the ALA found in plants to the DHA found in marine oils, it is very rare for it to be more than 5 percent — the typical conversion rate is 1 to 3 percent, or even less.1 This simply isn't enough to have any significant benefit.
So please, don't make the mistake of thinking you can forgo marine-sourced DHA for a plant-based ALA found in flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts and leafy greens.
Adding Fish Can Make a Big Difference
I think one of the reasons why vegetarians — at least those who follow Pythagoras' model, which includes fish — seem so healthy is because this diet is lower in protein than the conventional meat-based diet. When you eat excessive protein, you stimulate powerful biochemical pathways that trigger disease. This, combined with the fact that fish provides critical omega-3 and other healthy fats and cofactors, makes a strong case for the "pescetarian" form of vegetarianism.
“I agree totally,” Kahn says. “I remember trying to be an omnivore again … I started eating plenty of fish and my health skyrocketed almost immediately … My energy just skyrocketed. I started sleeping better. My nerves became calm. I was in intense gratitude to this first [wild salmon] that I ate; for the energy and the renewed love for life that it bestowed on me. It was absolutely amazing.
I did interviews and talked to or heard the stories of hundreds of vegans and ex-vegans, and almost invariably … the same thing happened to them … I think there's a very good reason Pythagoras ate some fish from time to time. It was plentiful in the Mediterranean region where he lived. It wasn't contaminated. There's reason he prescribed it to his everyday followers in the towns. That reason is probably DHA …
DHA is really a problem with vegans … In fact, two of the founders of veganism, as they became older, suffered from Parkinson’s disease. They had their DHA tested and it was zero … I eat sardines every other day. The rush of powerful and sustained energy I get from them I cannot find anywhere in the plant world.”
Low Protein and Low Fat — 2 Common Health Barriers for Vegans
While keeping your protein low is a wise move, excessively low protein can become a problem for vegans — especially if your diet is also low in healthy fats. Some will get just 8 to 12 percent protein from plants in their daily diet, which can trigger muscle wasting. "In that sense, vegans are consuming flesh after all — their own — if they're not eating enough protein," Kahn says.
Low fat is another, and in my view, more concerning problem, among vegans. When you eat a high-net carb diet (total carbs minus fiber), you're essentially burning carbohydrates as your primary fuel. If you shift down to relatively low levels of net carbs, which is easy to do on a vegetarian diet since vegetables are so high in fiber, then your body starts burning fat as its primary fuel. This means you need to increase the amount of healthy fats in your diet in order to satisfy your body's fuel demands.
Sufficient dietary fat is also essential for maintaining healthy hormone levels, Kahn notes, including your sex hormones. Raw veganism in particular is associated with loss of menses (amenorrhea), due to low calorie and fat intake, increasing your risk for infertility and osteoporosis.
Low fat is likely far more troublesome than low protein, because once you start burning fat for fuel, powerful protein-sparing processes start taking place, allowing you to get by with as little as 6 to 8 percent protein without risking muscle wasting. I only have 8 percent protein in my diet and I do not believe I'm protein deficient. That's because fat is my primary fuel. If I were burning carbs, I would not fare well at all with such a low amount of protein.
Veganism Has a High Drop Out Rate
The health problems associated with veganism create a high dropout rate. It's difficult to find good statistics on this, as people don't want to discuss it. Many are ashamed, feeling they've somehow "failed," and many are shamed by their fellow vegans, who believe they're making a huge mistake to go back to eating animal foods.
"I've even read accounts of ex-vegans who describe it as kind of cult-ish. The shaming that ensues is very powerful … One vegan told me that when she decided to go and buy some eggs for the first time in, I don't know, 10 or 15 years … her boyfriend, who was a staunch vegan, refused to go in with her. In fact, he had told her … he would rather she was a continually suffering vegan than to be a healthy meat-eater.
This, to me, was a perfect illustration of what I personally call Reverse Speciesism, preferring the health of an animal over the health of your fellow human being, which is really kind of a new thing, I think, in human history. It's not talked about much in the vegan community — the high dropout rate — but the numbers are large … It's estimated about 50 percent of vegans have left because of declining strength and declining health."
Even Vegan Diet Affects Animals
What many vegans fail to integrate into their overall evaluation is that even the consumption of an exclusively plant-based diet involves killing a wide variety of animals. Not intentionally, of course, but rather as an artifact of the process of growing the food. Essentially, there's no animal-free lunch, which is a direct quote from Kahn's book. There's going to be some type of destruction of life involved. Then there's the issue of plant consciousness as well.
As noted by Kahn, unless you're growing all your food by yourself in a no-till organic setting using hand tools, animals are destroyed in industrial agriculture. Studies by reputable scientists show up to 70 percent of rodents and small animals present in industrial growing fields end up being killed by the machinery. Animals are also killed in traps, and during food storage and transportation. As Kahn says:
"To be a vegan, you have to somewhere draw the line on what food you will eat and what you won't. For most of them, it's a matter of consciousness. Is the living thing conscious of what's going on? Is it suffering? That demarcation between an animal that's conscious and unconscious has totally changed throughout history and throughout cultures.
For instance, now they're looking at fish. In the past, it was just decided, because they were so cold looking and expressionless, that fish didn't have consciousness. But new testing is showing that perhaps they do; perhaps they can feel pain … People are taking that further and looking at insects. I interviewed scientists that work with insects. Some of them really do believe that insects have consciousness and an intelligence that we can't even understand …
The same with plants … Brilliant botanists believe that plants have elevated intelligence that we can't even begin to understand, because we don't speak the same 'language.' They know for sure that plants absolutely know when they are being eaten.
Living plants send out chemicals to warn their neighbors of danger ahead and they send out chemicals that summon insect bodyguards to ward off predators. These are intelligent beings that want to live. They have what I call 'want to live, don't want to die' skills that are very developed."
It's also worth noting that some of the research vegans rely on to substantiate their dietary choices as healthy actually do not offer such proof. For example, when Kahn dug deep into some of the most well-known studies that vegans love to cite, she discovered they actually define vegetarianism in a very broad way. They do not support a purely plant-based (vegan) diet at all. Not only did these studies include fish-eaters, but also dairy-eaters and even those who ate red meat once a week.
Why the American Dietetic Association Now Promotes Plant-Based Diet
Kahn says to be very wary of vegan studies conducted by vegans. As with all conflicts of interest, people have a tendency to find what they want to find, even if they have to massage the data a bit to get there. Interestingly, in recent years the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), formerly the American Dietetic Association (ADA), made the transition to promoting a plant-based diet. As it turns out, this decision was primarily based on the recommendations of a devoted vegan and a vegetarian.
“The ADA position paper, which came out in 2009, recommends a vegetarian and a vegan diet to all people of all ages, from infancy to old age. If you do some more digging, as journalists love to do, [you find] it was co-authored by two people. One was a vegetarian and one was a vegan. In fact, the vegetarian belongs to a religious denomination that encourages the spreading of vegetarianism across the world.
My question is: why weren’t these two authors tagged for conflict of interest? They’re recommending this to the whole world and to all ages …
There are some serious flaws in their research. First of all, I looked at their sources. I can't remember if it was 100 or 200 sources. I could find only 17 in all those sources that were exclusive to vegans. You cannot take vegetarian research and apply it to vegans. It just doesn't work. There are too many missing nutrients in a vegan diet that are present in a vegetarian diet.
I wish that vegans would not just read vegan blogs and websites and recommendations from other vegans. They need to look at science, at research — non-biased sources. They need to read my book, which would tell them everything they want to know about the history, philosophy and nutritional facts of veganism.”
That's not an inflated claim, I can assure you. I've read hundreds of health books, and Kahn's book, "Vegan Betrayal," is among the very best when it comes to teasing out the truth about veganism and health.
Balance Ethics and Health When Choosing Your Diet
I'm not opposed to vegetarianism. By Pythagoras' definition, I am a vegetarian. I eat very small amounts of animal protein; mostly fish. Occasionally, I'll have some organic grass-fed meat or free-range pastured chicken. But meats are not a cornerstone staple in my diet, and I believe most people could benefit from lowering their meat consumption. It shouldn't be entirely excluded, however, because animal foods do contain very valuable nutrients your body needs for optimal health.
Organic pastured eggs are another source of incredibly healthy nutrients. Ditto for raw butter. If ethics and animal welfare are your concerns, I would encourage you to investigate and educate yourself on humanely-raised animal foods.
Yes, the animal will die in the end, but there's a tremendous difference between the life of an animal raised in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) and one raised on pasture that is allowed to live a full, healthy and stress-free life. There's also a big difference in the way they're slaughtered.
At the end of the day, you have to choose between the life of an animal somewhere — even if only a few rodents caught in a harvester — or your own health. A balance must be struck between optimizing your health and causing the least amount of unnecessary suffering.
“If you look at the most lauded diet in the world, the Mediterranean diet — which by the way, they were doing a long-term study on, and which they ended early in 2013 because the benefits were so enormous they felt it was unethical to deprive the control group — the Mediterranean diet, which is mostly plants, limited fish, limited red meat, limited dairy, [gives you] all the carni-nutrients you need … It’s a complete diet.
It's been named one of the best diets in the world. It's historically validated for thousands of years and many, many generations that this diet confers long lasting health and long life … The vegan diet is not validated. That's what we need to work on — getting those research studies done, so that future vegans will know what they're up against," Kahn says.
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Finding a healthy and delicious snack is not as difficult as most people think. For instance, this Cucumber Rolls With Creamy Avocado Recipe from Ella Leché is a delightfully crunchy treat, and the combination of ingredients will give you plenty of health-boosting nutrients. This treat is suitable for most people with allergies, but even if you’re the type who can eat just about anything, I’m pretty sure you will love it too.
1 to 2 large organic English cucumbers
3 ripe avocados
Freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup capers
¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped finely)
1/8 cup fresh dill (chopped finely)
½ tsp. pink Himalayan salt
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Wash and dry the cucumbers, and use a mandoline slicer to cut thin slices all the way through. Keep on cutting the sides until you reach the center, but be careful that they don’t break. You can save the thin pieces for a salad or compost them.
- In a bowl, mash the avocado meat, add the other ingredients and mix.
- Lay out the cucumber slices and layer with a coat of the avocado spread all the way across. Start rolling on one side until you reach the end, but make sure to have some avocado spread (without capers) at the end to seal each slice.
- Dress them up with extra parsley and capers then serve.
Note: It is recommended that you use two cucumbers as some pieces could break, and you only need the middle part (not the thin sides that will be cut).
What Makes This Treat So Good for You?
This cucumber roll with creamy avocado recipe doesn’t require much prep work, but it is full of nutrients that can help take your health to new heights. Check out the benefits of the main ingredients:
If you are suffering from any inflammatory condition like arthritis, the natural anti-inflammatory properties of cucumbers may benefit you. Cucumbers also contain the compound fisetin, a flavonol that plays a vital role in brain health. Some studies have even found that fisetin can help prevent progressive memory and learning impairments in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.[i],[ii],[iii]
Cucumbers also contain polyphenols called lignans, including lariciresinol, pinoresinol and secoisolariciresinol, which may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease and breast, ovarian, uterine and prostate cancers. They are also a good source of an anti-cancer phytonutrient called cucurbitacins.[iv]
Just remember to choose organic cucumbers instead of conventionally grown varieties, because cucumbers are one of the most pesticide-contaminated foods, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).[v]
You have probably heard about how avocados are rich in “good” fats that can help keep your cholesterol levels in the healthy range, and decrease your risk of heart disease. They offer other benefits as well, containing a significant amount of the daily requirements of vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. An interesting fact most people aren’t aware of is that avocados are actually a better source of potassium than bananas.
A popular remedy for rheumatic pain in traditional medicine, capers are known to have high flavonoid content. They are a rich source of quercetin, a flavonoid that has been shown to offer anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain the flavonoid rutin, which helps strengthen capillaries and inhibit platelet clump formation in the blood vessels. Capers also have vitamins (A, K, niacin and riboflavin) and minerals (calcium, copper and iron).[vi]
This versatile spice is known to improve digestion by increasing the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Black pepper has long been recognized as a carminative, which means it helps prevent intestinal gas formation. Additionally, it is a natural diuretic that can help reduce excess water retention in the body. Black pepper is a good source of manganese, copper, iron and chromium as well.[vii]
When it comes to vitamin K content, parsley is highly impressive as it contains a whopping 574 percent of the daily recommended value.[viii] This herb doesn’t just promote bone strength, but it also helps prevent and treat Alzheimer’s by controlling neuronal damage in the brain. Parsley is rich in vitamins C and A as well, giving you an antioxidant boost while reducing your risk of eye problems like macular degeneration.[ix]
The medicinal use of dill dates back to 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, where it was considered “soothing medicine.”[x] Now, it is known to be a good source of vitamin A, as one ounce of this herb will give you 43 percent of your daily requirement. This herb is also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, folate, calcium and iron. It contains the flavonoids vicenin and kaemferol as well, which offer antioxidant effects.[xi]
About the Author:
Ella Leché is the founder of Pure Ella, a blog where she shares delicious and nourishing plant-based wheat- and/or gluten-free recipes that uses pure and natural ingredients. Leché uses food to heal her “medically incurable” illness naturally — she believes that you don’t have to sacrifice on taste and the pleasure just to eat healthy.