Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Urges Sen. Booker’s Nutrition Hearing to Address Rising Obesity Rates With Plant-Based Diet

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Nutrition specialists with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit of more than 17,000 doctors, contributed a statement for the record for today’s United States Senate Agriculture Committee hearing entitled “The State of Nutrition in America 2021.” In its statement, the Physicians Committee urges Congress to explore the growing evidence of meat and dairy’s links to chronic disease and the many benefits of a plant-based diet.

The Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research is holding this hearing to examine the state of nutrition in this country and to explore the many disparities related to food policy. Subcommittee Chair Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Mike Braun (R-IN) recently introduced a bill to convene a new White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health.

“Foremost in Congress’s minds should be rising rates of obesity in the United States, especially among people of color, and that nutrition policy in this country still does not warn against the risks of consuming processed meat or dairy, or the benefits of a plant-based diet,” says Neal Barnard, MD, FACC, adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and president of the Physicians Committee. “Additionally, more evidence shows that a plant-based diet may help prevent severe COVID-19.”

In 2015, after 22 experts from 10 countries assessed more than 800 epidemiological studies, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified consumption of processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 1) on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer.”

Research shows that eating 50 grams of processed meat daily also increases the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and overall cancer mortality. Studies show that processed meat also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Other studies have linked it to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Red meat also increases the risk of heart diseasediabetes, and certain cancers.

Dairy products are a leading source of saturated fat in the American diet. Scientific evidence also shows that milk and other dairy products increase the risk of asthmabreastovarian, and prostate cancers, cognitive decline, and early death, and offer little if any protection for bone health.
Dairy products also cause bloating, diarrhea, and gas in the tens of millions of Americans who have lactose intolerance, the natural progression of not breaking down sugar in milk.

The National Institutes of Health estimates approximately 95% of Asians, 60% to 80% of African Americans, 80% to 100% of American Indians, and 50% to 80% of Hispanics are lactose intolerant. Though once considered a disease, lactose intolerance is actually the norm for most humans; after infancy, most people not of European descent—about 70% of the world’s population—become physically uncomfortable after consuming dairy.

“A plant-based diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is a great way to achieve good health,” Dr. Barnard says. “These foods are full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, free of cholesterol, and low in calories and saturated fat. Eating a variety of these foods provides all the protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients your body needs.”
Those who eat a plant-based diet lower their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health conditions:

“Congress should have a frank and honest debate about what’s on Americans’ dinner plates and should highlight the links that meat and dairy—foods heavily subsidized by the federal government—have to chronic disease,” Dr. Barnard adds. “The Physicians Committee looks forward to continue to engage with federal policymakers on the benefits of a plant-based diet.”

Should the unvaccinated pay more for health insurance?

There have been several polls asking the questions if those Americans not vaccinated should pay more for health insurance. Most of the polls show an even split of opinions, though when asked of those who have been vaccinated, it is a clear majority opinion of ‘yes’. The theory, of course, is that the unvaxxed among us will cost our healthcare system more so than those who have been vaccinated.

This is a decision most likely to come from health insurers and perhaps from the federal government. After all, the federal government’s Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) allows for smokers to be charged up to 50 percent more than non-smokers by health insurers. For instance, Florida smokers are charged 50 percent more while smokers in Colorado only pay 15 percent more than non-smokers.

If the unvaccinated were to be charged to help extra costs insurers may incur, then this would open the door wider for those who are obese, choose poor diets, do not exercise or consume unhealthy amounts of alcohol. After all, if it is fair to charge higher premiums for not getting vaccinated for COVID-19, then it would be fair to charge more for soda drinkers, processed meat eaters, etc. Heart disease and cancer account for far more deaths each month than COVID-19, so where are the supporters of higher premiums for regular fast food consumers?

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Florida’s Dept of Health out with latest COVID-19 “situation report” – death to population remains under .2%

Leaders have squandered this opportunity to help get Americans to adopt healthier habits, which would reduce our collective healthcare costs in the future.

The Department of Health for the State of Florida has published its weekly COVID-19 Situation Report with its numbers through August 19, 2021. The numbers of new COVID-19 cases seem to have leveled off and we will see if that continues its plateau or declines as expected. According to the state government’s numbers, .192 percent of the Florida population has passed away because of COVID-19 over the last 1 1/2 years. Meanwhile, over the same time period, .318% of the state’s population has died of heart disease and .31% of the state population has died of cancer. Most heart disease and cancer deaths are preventable, which brings forth the question as to why there is such a major focus on COVID-19 when deaths from other preventable diseases are left in the shadows.

Some would answer that it is because COVID-19 is a transmittable disease, while cancer and heart disease are not, which would be correct. Yet, the government has been leading the charge to prevent COVID-19 infections and has been unsuccessfully regardless of the massive mandates, spending taxpayer money it does not have, and forcing businesses to close or heavily modify how they operate.

Why do they not do the same to help prevent the two leading causes of death? Because heavy government restrictions do not work. They did not work with COVID-19 and have been proven not to work with alcohol (a proven cause of cancer). It has been proven that processed meats cause cancer, yet there have been no Draconian actions taken against our local delis. Restaurants may serve unhealthy foods laden with salt (known causation of heart disease), yet politicians are quick to kill the restaurant industry with bizarre and non-science-based restrictions to prevent COVID-19.

If politicians were truly interested in saving lives and following the science, they would propose bans on fried foods, alcohol, excessive salt, sugar, etc. The reason that doesn’t happen is that we would laugh them out of office even though the science would back them and such actions would never work because it would create a black market in those items. We would hear from politicians and science experts that besides getting vaccinated against COVID-19, the population may want to take other healthy actions to boost their immune systems to live a healthier life. Leaders have squandered this opportunity to help get Americans to adopt healthier habits, which would reduce our collective healthcare costs in the future.

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One cup of green leafy vegetables daily is key to reducing blood pressure

Another study is confirming a growing volume of studies showing the importance of vegetables in our diet and how they relate to one’s health. This most recent Danish study shows how important eating nitrate rich vegetables is to your cardiovascular health, reducing the potential for stroke, and keeping your blood pressure in check.

The study concluded that eating one cup of green leafy vegetables daily (the equivalent of 60 mg) will help to keep your cardiovascular system healthy, overall. The study was over 23 years in the making as over 40,000 participants were followed up with regularly regarding their eating habits and their cardiovascular health.

From the study: “In this prospective cohort study of 53,150 Danish people without CVD at baseline, we found that a higher vegetable nitrate intake was associated with a lower SBP and DBP at baseline. Furthermore, we observed that a moderate intake of vegetable nitrate was inversely associated with incident CVD, with no additional benefits observed for higher intakes. This association was partially mediated by SBP and was stronger in individuals with high alcohol consumption than in those with a low to moderate alcohol consumption. For CVD subtypes, individuals with moderate to high vegetable nitrate intakes had a lower risk of atherosclerotic CVD hospitalisations, namely IHD, ischemic stroke, heart failure, and PAD, but not for other CVD hospitalisations, namely haemorrhagic stroke or AF.

We observed that participants in the highest quintile of vegetable nitrate intake had a 2.58 mmHg lower SBP and a 1.38 mmHg lower DBP at baseline, compared to those in the lowest quintile. In the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, a 2 mmHg lower SBP was associated with 17.9 fewer CHD events, 9.6 fewer stroke events, and 26.6 fewer heart failure events per 100,000 person-years [35]. Framingham Heart Study investigators observed that a 2 mmHg lower DBP was associated with a 6% lower risk of CHD and a 15% lower risk of stroke in men and women aged 35–64 years [36]. Our results support findings from short-term clinical trials, and meta-analyses of these trials, demonstrating a benefit of nitrate intake on BP [37]. However, not all clinical trials have observed a reduction in BP with nitrate intake. The majority of clinical trials observe reductions in BP with nitrate intake in normotensive individuals, however effects in individuals with high-normal BP and hypertension are less clear [37]. The largest clinical trial to date [38], did not observe a reduction in BP in 243 older subjects with elevated BP after 5 weeks nitrate intake. Interestingly, we observed an inverse association between vegetable nitrate intake and BP in individuals both on and not on anti-hypertensive medication.”

Another study shows benefits of taking an aspirin a day

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Although one should always consult their physician when embarking on a new health regimen, a new study of over 15,000 individuals has found benefits for the heart for those who took one aspirin a day. They followed the individuals for over two years and the benefits did not seem to be affected whether they took a low-dose aspirin or a regular aspirin. There was little statistical difference whether one took a 325 mg dose or an 81 mg dose daily.

It is important to note that a small percentage of people should not take an aspirin daily as it could land them in the hospital for internal bleeding, which is why it is important to consult a physician prior to starting on such a program. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, “

Aspirin interferes with your blood’s clotting action. When you bleed, your blood’s clotting cells, called platelets, build up at the site of your wound. The platelets help form a plug that seals the opening in your blood vessel to stop bleeding.

But this clotting can also happen within the vessels that supply your heart with blood. If your blood vessels are already narrowed from atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries — a fatty deposit in your vessel lining can burst.

Then, a blood clot can quickly form and block the artery. This prevents blood flow to the heart and causes a heart attack. Aspirin therapy reduces the clumping action of platelets — possibly preventing a heart attack.”

However, there are perhaps better ways for better cardiovascular health such as eating a low fat, whole-foods plant-based diet and eliminating the intake of all oils from our diets.

New large scale study suggests going vegetarian can help most people live longer, healthier lives

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In one of the largest studies of its kind, the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) has found that it is healthiest to be a vegetarian. Their study of over 177,000 people found vegetarians appear to have a healthier biomarker profile than meat-eaters. This applies to adults of any age and weight, and is also unaffected by smoking and alcohol consumption, according to a new study in over 166,000 UK adults.

Biomarkers can have bad and good health effects, promoting or preventing cancer, cardiovascular and age-related diseases, and other chronic conditions, and have been widely used to assess the effect of diets on health. However, evidence of the metabolic benefits associated with being vegetarian is unclear.

To understand whether dietary choice can make a difference to the levels of disease markers in blood and urine, researchers from the University of Glasgow did a cross-sectional study analysing data from 177,723 healthy participants (aged 37-73 years) in the UK Biobank study, who reported no major changes in diet over the last five years.

They categorized participants as either vegetarian (do not eat red meat, poultry or fish; 4,111 participants) or meat-eaters (166,516 participants) according to their self-reported diet. The researchers examined the association with 19 blood and urine biomarkers related to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, liver, bone and joint health, and kidney function.

Even after accounting for potentially influential factors including age, sex, education, ethnicity, obesity, smoking, and alcohol intake, the analysis found that compared to meat-eaters, vegetarians had significantly lower levels of 13 biomarkers, including: total cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—the so-called ‘bad cholesterol; apolipoprotein A (linked to cardiovascular disease), apolipoprotein B (linked to cardiovascular disease); gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and alanine aminotransferase (AST)—liver function markers showing inflammation or damage to cells; insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1; a hormone that encourages the growth and proliferation of cancer cells); urate; total protein; and creatinine (marker of worsening kidney function).

However, vegetarians also had lower levels of beneficial biomarkers including high-density lipoprotein ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol, and vitamin D and calcium (linked to bone and joint health). In addition, they had significantly higher level of fats (triglycerides) in the blood and cystatin-C (suggesting a poorer kidney condition).

They found no link for blood sugar levels (HbA1c), systolic blood pressure, aspartate aminotransferase (AST; a marker of damage to liver cells) or C-reactive protein (CRP; inflammatory marker).

“Our findings offer real food for thought”, says Dr Carlos Celis-Morales  from the University of Glasgow, UK, who led the research. “As well as not eating red and processed meat which have been linked to heart diseases and some cancers, people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume more vegetables, fruits, and nuts which contain more nutrients, fibre, and other potentially beneficial compounds. These nutritional differences may help explain why vegetarians appear to have lower levels of disease biomarkers that can lead to cell damage and chronic disease.”

The authors point out that although their study was large; it was observational, so they can draw no conclusions about direct cause and effect. They also note several limitations, including that they only tested biomarker samples once for each participant, and it is possible that biomarkers might fluctuate depending on factors unrelated to diet, such as existing diseases and unmeasured lifestyle factors. They also note that were reliant on participants to report their dietary intake using food frequency questionnaires, which is not always reliable.

Deaths from COVID-19 continue to plummet in Florida

Source: Florida Department of Health

The number of Floridians dying from COVID-19/SAR-CoV-2 have been on the decline since March 2021 and are now well below 20 per day. This number is much less than the number of Floridians dying of cancer and heart disease, to put it in perspective. While 2,155,319 have contracted the virus, a total of 34,759 Florida residents have died from COVID-19 and 684 non-residents have passed because of the virus. Florida’s population is now at 21,944,600 so .15 percent of the state’s population has died due to COVID-19 over the course of 1.5 years. One is more likely to die because of heart disease or cancer.

Here in Palm Beach County, Florida there have been 2,740 deaths from SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 out of a population of about 1.5 million, so .18 percent of the county’s population have passed because of the virus. The median age of those who have contracted the virus is 40 years old, with nine percent of the county population contracting SARS-CoV-2.

Collaboration introduces a collection of mood-brightening recipe videos, curated meditations and mindful exercises via Whole Foods Market and Headspace

Whole Foods Market and Headspace have combined their expertise to help revitalize consumers’ overall well-being this spring. The cross-platform collaboration includes a mood-brightening IGTV recipe series called Food for Mood, three new meditations focused on mindful shopping, cooking and eating, a one-month free trial of Headspace Plus and more.

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A recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Whole Foods Market found 85% of respondents would like to improve their overall well-being (e.g., health, happiness — both physically and mentally) a year into the pandemic. Connecting with food is also a priority, with 79% of consumers saying they want to learn to eat more mindfully. With Whole Foods Market as the one-stop destination for holistic, total body well-being needs and Headspace a global leader in mindfulness and meditation, an alliance between the two brands offers the tools needed to re-prioritize physical and mental well-being by tapping into positive moods associated with certain foods.

“After a year of dramatically shifting routines and priorities, we know customers are eager to re-prioritize well-being, and the beginning of spring is a great time to reset your meals and renew your mind,” said Kylie Bentley, registered dietitian and team leader for Nutrition & Compliance at Whole Foods Market. “Whole Foods Market is a well-known destination for nutritious food that inspires wholesome meals. Now, together with Headspace, we are able to provide exciting tools for mindfulness.”

Starting this month, customers can visit Whole Foods Market’s IGTV page to watch the first episode of an original IGTV series featuring recipes created by chef, food and welfare advocate Sophia Roe, in collaboration with Whole Foods Market, and Harvard nutritional psychiatrist, chef and author of “This Is Your Brain on Food,” Dr. Uma Naidoo. In each of the four Food for Mood episodes, rolling out through the end of March, the experts share mood-brightening recipes inspired by spring’s bounty and feature a fun, food-filled conversation about how we mindfully connect with our food and take time to care for ourselves. Episodes highlight specific ingredients and tips to inspire one of four positive moods: joyful, energized, focused and relaxed.

“Mindful eating is so much more than just paying attention to our food — it encompasses finding joy and inspiration in our shopping, being present and intentional with our meal preparation, savoring what’s on our plate and developing a greater awareness of how it makes us feel or contributes to our well-being,” said Eve Lewis, Headspace director of meditation. “Our goal at Headspace is to improve the health and happiness of the world, and we’re thrilled to work with Whole Foods Market to spark more inspiration and refresh our mindset around our daily routines and experiences with food.”

For 40 years, Whole Foods Market has been the world’s leading natural and organic foods retailer. As the first certified organic national grocer, Whole Foods Market has over 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Headspace was created with one mission in mind: to improve the health and happiness of the world. Reaching 70 million users in 190 countries, Headspace was one of the first meditation apps in the world and remains a leader in mindfulness and mental training.

How long do COVID-19 vaccines last? Bottom line is more studies are ongoing as we do not know

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Now that 45 million Americans have been vaccinated from COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2, many are wondering how long the vaccines will last and if people will need to get annual shots like the flu shot every year. There is not enough information available to make any certain determinations, and contrary to a good deal of news reports, the FDA has approved none of the vaccines available in the United States; it has only authorized them for emergency use (EUA). The first dose of the mRNA vaccines (like those from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) trains the immune system to recognize and attack the spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

For example, the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine starts off at 94 percent effective against COVID-19, and it will begin denigrating its effectiveness 119 days (three months) after getting the vaccine for those over 56 years of age according to one small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For those 55 and under, the vaccine efficacy will last longer; however, much more study is needed for conclusive results. We do not know enough about the Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, or Janssen COVID-19 vaccines to rate their efficacy months after getting the shot, and studies are continuing to get the data needed to know how long the efficacy lasts. The only way to accurately compare the effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines is by direct comparison in head-to-head clinical trials, which has not occurred for these vaccines. The clinical trials for these vaccines occurred in different geographic regions and at different points in time. All the COVID-19 vaccines that the FDA has authorized for emergency use are at least 50% more effective than placebo in preventing COVID-19 at the time they are given.

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According to research from the National Institutes of Health, those who have already had COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 will have natural immunity up to eight months of infection. Antibodies—proteins that circulate in the blood—recognize foreign substances like viruses and neutralize them. The researchers found durable immune responses in the majority of people studied. Antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which the virus uses to get inside cells, were found in 98% of participants one month after symptom onset. As seen in previous studies, the number of antibodies ranged widely between individuals. But, promisingly, their levels remained fairly stable over time, declining only modestly at 6 to 8 months after infection. This study’s results were further supported with a much larger study out of England with healthcare workers who had contracted the virus and had immunity for many months after. All studies have shown a slow decline in natural immunity after eight months, and it is unknown how long it takes an average human to no longer have that immunity.

Shaklee now has vegan omega-3 from algae

Shaklee’s Vegan Omega-3

Most omega-3 supplements come from fish, making it difficult for vegans to have optimum health if they are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. Shaklee has come out with a premium omega-3 that is vegan and is derived from algae. Omega-3 has been shown to improve brain, eye, heart, and joint health in humans.

Two somewhat recent studies have shown no benefit of Omega-3 supplements for heart attacks, yet those studies were from fish-oil supplements and did not include Shaklee’s plant-based Omega-3. Those studies showed that high doses of Omega-3 will reduce one’s triglyceride levels.

Most people incorrectly believe that fish produce their own DHA and EPA, when in fact it’s the algae in their food chain. Shaklee’s vegan Omega-3 goes straight to the source, resulting in a sustainable, high-quality product with 400 mg DHA plus 100 mg of EPA per serving. 

Two major National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored studies, called Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), showed that dietary supplements containing specific combinations of vitamins, antioxidants, and zinc helped slow the progression of AMD in people who were at high risk of developing the advanced stage of this disease. AREDS2, which had more than 4,000 participants and was completed in 2013, also tested EPA and DHA. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are omega-3 fatty acids that are abundant in fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and some algae. They play an important role in normal human growth and development and have benefits to human nutrition and health for all ages and across the life span.

Shaklee’s plant-based omega-3s in Vegan Omega-3 are sourced from natural, non-GMO algae, fermented via a proprietary process and completely traceable from end to end. They ensure the highest quality and safety standards—conducting over 100,000 quality tests per year to ensure our products are safe.

It’s uncertain whether omega-3 fatty acid supplements are helpful for depression. Although some studies have had promising results, a 2015 evaluation of 26 studies that included more than 1,400 people concluded that if there is an effect, it may be too small to be meaningful. Other analyses have suggested that if omega-3s do have an effect, EPA may be more beneficial than DHA and that omega-3s may best be used in addition to antidepressant medication rather than in place of it. A 2017 research review suggested that people who carry a gene called APOE4, which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, might benefit from taking DHA before developing signs of Alzheimer’s.

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