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.”

Florida continues to do well with COVID-19 response

COVID-19 has devastated the economies of many states in the union and most countries across the globe. Yet, COVID has not had a larger death rate to the population than other diseases. While any death is tragic no matter the cause, the number of Floridians who have passed away because of COVID remains relatively small. Florida is arguably one of the most vulnerable states in the nation because of its large number of elderly who are more susceptible to death from COVID-19 than younger populations. The following numbers are only those we can get from government sources and those have been called into question as often being inflated causes of death because of COVID.

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An important point when reading articles or watching the news is we are often given the total numbers of COVID cases and deaths, which have happened over the course of about 22 months (almost two years). So, for this article and the numbers below, I have broken them down to being based on yearly averages. We count all diseases on a yearly basis and it is unclear why our government officials and much in the media choose to use total numbers when talking about COVID-19. Breaking the numbers down by year or even by month and season has been the traditional and more rational way to keep track of the severity of diseases affecting us humans.

For instance, according to USAFacts.org, Florida’s total deaths from COVID-19 have been .15% annually of the state’s 21,570,527 person population. Florida has had 58,933 deaths because of COVID and broken down by 22 months comes to about 2,678 deaths per month. Multiply that by 12 months in a year, the average number of annual deaths in Florida because of COVID is 32,145. This would be our third leading cause of death in Florida, distantly behind heart disease and cancer. While heart disease and cancer are not communicable diseases, the bulk of deaths for these diseases are preventable, as with COVID-19. Yet we have not shut down the economy because of heart disease or cancer, and in fact, the government has been complicit in approving of and promoting things that cause heart disease and cancer in Floridians.

Until we get a handle on the best ways to combat the virus, it may be a good idea to protect yourself with a boost to your immune system with healthy eating, supplementation, and exercise.

Fortunate for those who have contracted COVID and survived now have natural immunity, which will help them combat COVID-19 and many of its variants. Since COVID is a novel virus, we continue to collect more data that will help us determine how effective natural immunity and synthetic vaccines are in combatting the disease.

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.

3 to 5 cups of coffee a day keeps the doctor away – for most

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Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages, and some studies have suggested it may lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in the United States. Most of the effects attributed to the chronic use of coffee on the heart rate variability (HRV) indexes have been found to result from the higher prevalence of unhealthy habits in coffee users, such as smoking and alcohol use, not coffee drinking itself. Adjustment for these confounding factors weaken the association that drinking coffee will lead to heart disease.

A review of the evidence on the effect of habitual coffee consumption on CVD incidence and mortality found that 3-5 cups of coffee per day is associated with a 15 percent reduction in the risk of CVD. Compared to no coffee intake, usual consumption of 1-5 cups/day is associated with a lower risk of death. In people who have already suffered a CVD event, habitual consumption does not increase the risk of a recurrent CVD or death. However, hypertensive patients with uncontrolled blood pressure should avoid consuming large doses of caffeine. In persons with well-controlled blood pressure, coffee consumption is probably safe, but further investigations are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

One of the largest studies on the relationship between coffee and CVD concluded, “Our findings do not support the hypothesis that coffee consumption increases the long-term risk of coronary heart disease. Habitual moderate coffee drinking was associated with a lower risk of CHD in women.

In another large-scale study, Neal Freedman, Ph.D., Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI, and his colleagues examined the association between coffee drinking and risk of death in 400,000 U.S. men and women ages 50 to 71 who took part in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Information about coffee intake was collected once by questionnaire at study entry in 1995-1996. They followed the participants until the date they died or Dec. 31, 2008, whichever came first. In this study, they found a 10 percent reduction lower risk of death by those who drank coffee over those who did not.

Men need to be more proactive with their health

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Cleveland Clinic conducted a survey of over 500 men ages 18 to 70 across the United States and found that only three in five men get an annual physical, and just over 40 percent go to the doctor only when they fear they have a serious medical condition. Typically, men avoid doctors as they prefer not to know, or don’t see a reason to go. It is important to encourage a mindset of proactive, preventive thinking.

Men with a family history of heart disease have on average an earlier onset of heart issues. Here are some heart health risk factors: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, poor diet, overweight and obesity, family history, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.

Going for checkups can help to determine your numbers and your overall health so it can inform you and identify health goals.

Start by knowing your numbers: Blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, body fat level, and blood sugar.

If your body fat is greater than 24 percent, commit to shedding some of that fat. Whether some of your numbers are elevated, set and follow diet and exercise goals. Regular checkups and screenings make a difference.

According to the NIH, men have typically been meat and potato eaters, and haven’t viewed vegetables as all that important. Consequently, men are significantly less likely than women to recognize the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, and their role in reducing the risk of many cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Studies via the NIH have shown many men eat only about 4½ servings of fruits and vegetables a day on average. Only 4% say they eat the 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day recommended as part of an active lifestyle.

Eating right and getting a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, plays a part in a healthy lifestyle and losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. Eat a variety of food, include 7 or more servings of colorful fruits and vegetables—not juice. Get plenty of whole grains, beans, and legumes. Select “healthy fats”—eat more omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds). Avoid trans fats and fried foods and minimize intake of fast foods.

Shaklee’s Meology

Shaklee offers a free assessment, which is patent pending, what nutrition one may need based on their personal situation. Meology provides a truly precise, personalized nutrition plan. Personalized recommendations are more effective than the traditional one-size fits all approach, and not all personalized nutrition plans are created equal.

Most companies offering personalized nutrition solutions deliver recommendations using stratified and tailored approaches. Meology, however, delivers recommendations precisely for you and your individual needs using a precision-based approach.

Veganuary gains strength as over 1 million sign up to go vegan in January

A movement spanning over 192 countries to get people to go vegan for the month of January has signed up its millionth pledge. Started in the United Kingdom, Veganuary is a non-profit organization that encourages people worldwide to eat vegan for January and beyond. During the 2020 campaign, over 400,000 people took their pledge to try a vegan diet. Over 600 brands, restaurants and supermarkets promoted the campaign, and launched over 1200 new vegan products and menus in the UK market alone. If so inclined, you can take the pledge for January 2021 via this link. If you are in the United States, use this link.

People go vegan for different reasons, some it is from an animal rights perspective, save the planet, and others do it for health reasons, or perhaps all three. Whatever the reason, it is easier to go vegan than the previous five decades. There are new vegan food products being launched almost daily, and restaurants have become more accommodating in recent years with a vast array of vegan options.

Even meal kit delivery services like Green Chef and Purple Carrot have joined the vegan bandwagon offering healthy vegan meals to subscribers. Nutritional companies like Shaklee have long offered vegan products, and only recently have they been promoting their quality plant-based Life Shakes and other vegan products that are certified vegan while never testing their products on animals. The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn came about after his father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn came out with his best-selling book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.

While anyone can go vegan by eating unhealthy potato chips or other unhealthy fried foods, the best way to eating healthy as a vegan is to choose only whole foods and avoid as much highly processed foods as possible. The Veganuary website offers a multitude of vegan recipes and other resources to make the move to eating a more plant-based diet. In addition, there are seemingly endless resources on the Internet with more healthy vegan recipes than you could eat in a year. While some people jump into it cold “turkey” so-to-speak, others will need to incorporate more and more fruits and veggies into their diet over time, ultimately eliminating meat and dairy. It has been scientifically proven that either a whole food plant-based or Mediterranean diet is the healthiest for humans to follow. An unbiased and highly cited published scientific study found that “the case that we should, indeed, eat true food, mostly plants, is all but incontrovertible.”

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