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.”

The future is vegan according to yet another survey

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Whole Foods Market revealed its first-ever plant-based trend predictions, with nut-based cheese alternatives, banana blossoms and creamy cashew dips topping the list. Looking ahead to summer and beyond, the grocer’s Trends Council pooled members’ industry knowledge, product-sourcing expertise and hands-on work with emerging and existing plant-forward brands to inform the predictions.

The choice to highlight plant-based predictions comes at a time when shoppers are focusing on eating more plants. According to a recent study by The Hartman Group, nearly half (48%) of consumers look for products labeled as “plant-based.”

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“Plant-based is the grocery category to watch right now as brands continue to innovate by using new ingredients and processes that make plant-based products exciting for shoppers,” said Parker Brody, Senior Global Category Merchant for Plant-Based at Whole Foods Market. “And in the laid-back days of summer, we find that customers are breaking out of their routines and are more open to trying something new, whether they’re longtime vegans or just starting to experiment with plant-based eating. So, expect to see gourmet plant-based cheese alternative spreads at picnics and fish alternatives made from banana blossoms on the grill this season.”

Whole Foods Market’s top five plant-based trends for the summer:

Alternative Cheeses Go Gourmet

Give summer charcuterie boards an upgraded, plant-based twist with a distinctive assortment of cheese alternatives that are all dairy free. While using nut-based milks and ingredients like black garlic truffle, dill Havarti and chive is unique, plant-based cheese makers are also replicating the methods used to make dairy cheeses for more authentic textures and flavors. Including a plant-based cheese will take your picnic basket to the next level.

BBQ for All (Yes, Even Vegans)

Remember when corn ribs broke the internet? Buckle up for more plants hitting the grill this summer that go far beyond the veggie burger: Think plant-based products like hot dogs, Italian-style sausages and even jackfruit BBQ. From algae-based casing to hickory smoke concentrate, these vegetarian options have unique ingredients making it easy (and flavorful) to incorporate more plants into cookouts. Mixing up classic grilling go-tos will leave meat lovers and vegetarians alike wanting more.

Pint-Sized and Plant-Based

Gone are the days of pleading with the kids to eat their fruits and veggies. For the littlest of eaters, brands are providing plant-forward options that come in kid-approved forms like nuggets, yogurt tubes and ice pops (did we mention they’re superhero themed?). These products are perfect for sneaking fruits and veggies into their meal and great for on-the-go backyard explorations.

Plant-Based Catch of the Day

Get ready for a recent wave of seafood substitutes that will be sure to surprise and impress! Ingredients like legumes and banana blossoms are being used to mimic the flaky texture of the real thing. This means alternative fish sticks, no-tuna sandwiches and a whole new depth of flavor in an otherwise simple fish dinner. So pop open some bubbly and wow friends with this fresh take on seafood.

Dairy-Free Dips in Disguise

Searching for a creamy dip to pair with a summer crudité spread? Look no further than these buttery-smooth and spreadable dips and cream cheese alternatives. Highlighting traditionally milky flavors like French onion, ranch and queso, they’re a fun and effortless way to enhance any starter course. They’re not just for dipping – smear on bagels, spread on sandwiches or dollop on crusty bread for a midday snack.

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.

Will we all be forced to eat vegan for Biden to reach his climate change goals?

According to The Center for Biological Diversity, cutting U.S. meat intake in half could prevent 1.6 billion tons of climate pollution. If this is the science, why aren’t more climate alarmist ditching meat and going vegan? While a self-reporting 3 percent of the U.S. population purports to be eating plant-based (not necessarily vegan), 60 percent believe in humans are creating climate change. So why hasn’t 57 percent of Americans gone vegan, shouldn’t we be following the science?

Disclaimer: While I am not suggesting Americans should be forced to alter their diet, this article shows that if President Biden feels he and other governments can affect climate change by dramatically altering the way humans live, then it is reasonable to believe he will attempt to alter Americans’ diets to fulfill his goal. I have been eating vegan since 1994.

According to President Biden’s “Plan for Climate Change and Environmental Justice” climate change is a national emergency which requires “bold” action by his administration. His website states that he “believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.”

Setting aside whether one believes to what degree humans can affect climate change, Biden and his administration clearly feel the United States government along with the states and local governments can tackle this issue and be successful. Within that framework, it is only natural to include the effect animal farming has on methane and CO2 levels, so why discount it and not include reducing or eliminating meat from Americans diets as one of the climate change options? Since the government wants to dramatically change the way we collect energy, it is reasonable to conclude the government would want to take steps to make our bodies healthier while reducing greenhouse gases at the same time.

According to The Center for Biological Diversity, cutting U.S. meat intake in half could prevent 1.6 billion tons of climate pollution. If this is the science, why aren’t more climate alarmist ditching meat and going vegan? While a self-reporting 3 percent of the U.S. population purports to be eating plant-based (not necessarily vegan), 60 percent believe humans are creating climate change. So why hasn’t 57 percent of Americans gone vegan, shouldn’t we be following the science?

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New research released by the University of Michigan and Tulane University found that replacing 50% of animal products with plant-based foods in the United States would prevent over 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. According to the study, if Americans reduced if beef consumption by 90% alongside the 50% reduction in other animal products, it would prevent over 2 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution. That’s roughly equivalent to taking nearly half the world’s cars off the roads for a year.

“Moving the American appetite from our burger-heavy diet to plant-based eating is a powerful and necessary part of curbing the climate crisis,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the meat supply chain’s vulnerabilities, but our food system faces even greater long-term threats from climate change. We desperately need policymakers to support sustainable diets and a resilient food system.”

The study, “Implications of Future U.S. Diet Scenarios on Greenhouse Gas Emissions“, found that replacing half of all animal-based foods with plant-based alternatives would reduce diet-related emissions by 35%. And if half of all animal-based foods were replaced with plant-based alternatives and beef consumption fell by 90%, dietary emissions would drop by 51%. If American diets remain unchanged, emissions associated with producing the food we eat will climb 9% by 2030.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that the world has under 10 years to reduce global emission by half to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. Last year the IPCC warned that food systems are already being adversely affected by climate disruption and identified dietary shifts as a solution for mitigation and adaptation. Previous research has shown that society will be unable to meet global climate targets without reducing meat and dairy consumption and production.

“While diet shift isn’t a silver bullet, it could play an important role in curbing climate change,” said Martin Heller, lead author of the study and research specialist at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems at the School for Environment and Sustainability. “Plus, it’s an actionable strategy at all levels, from consumers to the food industry to local, state and national policy.”

The Center’s policy guide — Appetite for Change: A Policy Guide to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Diets by 2030 — outlines key actions that can be taken at all levels of government. Those include shifting procurement toward plant-based purchases, creating food-policy councils, ending subsidies and bailouts that encourage overproduction of animal products, and incorporating sustainability into federal nutrition recommendations. The Trump administration is currently revising the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“We can’t ignore that public health, sustainability, climate resilience and food security are all part of the same recipe,” Feldstein said. “Our government has a responsibility to make healthy, climate-friendly foods more accessible to all Americans, and that starts with the dietary guidelines.”

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.”

Esselstyn’s Engine 2 now offering their plant-strong foods directly to consumers

Rip Esslestyn

Rip Esselstyn spent a decade as one of the premier triathletes in the world. He then joined the Austin Fire Department where he introduced his passion for a whole-food, plant-based diet to Austin’s Engine 2 Firehouse to rescue a firefighting brother’s health. To document his success, he wrote the national bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet, which shows the irrefutable connection between a plant-based diet and good health. They feature prominently him in the documentary Forks Over Knives.

Engine 2 Pizza Kits

In South Florida, Engine 2 products could mostly be found at Whole Foods, and now Esselstyn is expanding its availability to consumers to purchase directly from his company in bulk. They have already sold out of their pizza kits, which include their delicious pizza crusts and sauce. Besides their pizza kits, they are offering two versions of granola and two cereals.

Engine 2 products follow the no oil, plant-strong profile for a healthy life. Heart health is a major proponent of the Engine 2 Diet, though it is more than just heart health. The plant-strong website offers dozens of free recipes for visitors to their website. In addition, the website offers paid programs, from cleaning up your kitchen pantry to only include healthy items, meal planners, rescue programs for those having health issues, and much more.

Tofurky challenges Louisiana’s new law keeping them from labeling products as plant-based sausage or vegan ham, etc.

The Good Food Institute and Animal Legal Defense Fund has sued on behalf of Tofurky challenging a Louisiana law that would impose fines of up to $500 per day for every plant-based meat product marketed or sold with terms like “ham,” “burger” and “sausage” on their labels. The terms would be illegal even with clear modifiers such as “vegan,” “veggie,” or “plant-based” on their labels. The challenged law became effective on October 1, 2020.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, argues that the Louisiana law violates Tofurky’s First Amendment right to free speech by improperly censoring truthful commercial speech. The lawsuit further argues there is no evidence that current labels mislead consumers, pointing out that Tofurky’s products all clearly show the products are plant-based, meatless, vegetarian, or vegan.

The Food and Drug Administration requires that all plant-based products use a coherent statement of identity that explains their nature and contents using common or usual terms. This includes terms that the public is familiar with — like “burger” and “hot dog” — because they inform consumers about how products can be served and what they taste like. The animal agriculture industry, in a clear attempt to make plant-based products less appetizing to consumers, has suggested that they be forced to use terms like “veggie pucks” instead of “veggie burger” and “vegan tubes” instead of “vegan hot dogs.”

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Francis Thompson, has admitted that he designed the law to protect certain Louisiana agricultural producers from growing competition from plant-based meat, riced vegetables, and meat grown directly from animal cells, called “cultivated” or “cultured” meat.

“It’s absurd that Louisiana’s elected officials are spending their time on the imaginary crisis of people confusing veggie burgers for beef burgers,” says The Good Food Institute Director of Policy, Jessica Almy. “Consumers deserve better than lawmakers passing condescending laws that try to dictate what Louisianans buy. Consumers are no more likely to believe that ‘veggie burgers’ contain cow meat than Girl Scout cookies contain Girl Scouts.”

“Using unconstitutional laws in an attempt to shore up the animal agriculture industry — at the expense of human health, animal protection, and the environment — is extremely short sighted,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director, Stephen Wells. “With the dangers of zoonotic disease ever present, it is unconscionable that there are attempts to undermine these products at a time when they should be supported given the risks animal agriculture and factory farming pose.”

The Louisiana law is like meat-labeling censorship laws passed in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and other states. Several laws face similar legal challenges by Tofurky, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and The Good Food Institute. Last year, these organizations and the ACLU challenged the Arkansas law, with the court halting the enforcement of the law and declaring that it was likely an unconstitutional restriction on Tofurky’s right to free speech.

“These state meat-labeling laws are blatantly unconstitutional and serve as shameful examples of state legislators prioritizing the wishes of their corporate donors over those of their constituents,” says Jaime Athos, president and CEO of Tofurky. “By now it is clear that consumers are choosing plant-based options because they are better for the environment as well as human health and animal welfare, not because those consumers are confused. It is unconscionable that state legislators would so recklessly interfere with the market in this way, favoring certain industries over others while simultaneously making it harder for their constituents to access the healthier protein options of their choosing.”

Another study shows heart health benefits of eating plant-based burgers over beef burgers

A new study released yesterday, August 11, 2020, from Standford Medicine found that people who eat plant-based burgers instead of beef burgers helped their cardiovascular health. This small study backs up dozens of previous studies showing the health benefits of changing from a beef, pork, or lamb to go plant-based. Although most health professionals would advocate humans eat whole foods as opposed to processed foods, this and other studies are investigating if eating processed plant-based foods still have health benefits over eating meat.

Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said, “There’s been this sort of backlash against these new meat alternatives. The question is, if you’re adding sodium and coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat, and using processed ingredients, is the product still actually healthy?” To find out, Gardner and his team gathered a group of over 30 individuals and assigned them to two different diets, each one for eight weeks. One diet called for at least two daily servings of meat — the options available were primarily red meat — and one called for at least two daily servings of plant-based meat.

The Standford study found a reduction in participant’s trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO. High levels of TMAO contribute to a heightened risk for clot-related events such as heart attack and stroke—even after researchers take into account conventional risk factors and markers of inflammation that might skew the results.

Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study concluded that red meat consumption was associated with living a significantly shorter life—increased cancer mortality, increased heart disease mortality, and increased overall mortality.

Many processed plant-based meat alternatives include various oils like coconut oil and canola oil. However, the famous Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. recommends avoiding oils. His research and other studies have shown processed oils injure the endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery, and that injury is the gateway to vascular disease. All oil is also empty calories. Esselstyn’s son Rip has created the Engine2Diet and a line of oil-free Plant Strong foods, including six different burgers, available at Whole Foods Market. Plant-based burgers and many other foods are now available at most restaurants, including fast food restaurants, so eating a healthier meal has never been more convenient.

Plant Strong Habanero Burger (one of six types offered by Plant Strong)

So, the conclusion multiple studies have shown is that converting from meat to eating plant-based foods has many health benefits, especially for the heart. Fears of not getting enough protein are easily dismissed as numerous plant-based products not only have more protein than their meat alternatives, but they contain healthier proteins. And though eating whole foods is the healthiest route, even eating processed plant-based foods is a healthier path than eating animals.

Beyond Burger

Free Virtual Plant-Based Conference This Weekend

These are some areas of health the conference will cover:

The most expensive disease in America (hint, it’s not heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or obesity)

The Holistic Holiday at Home virtual health conference starts on Sunday, July 26 through August 1, 2020. The conference will include over 30 of the leading health and wellness plant-based experts in the world, for virtual programming designed to inspire, educate, motivate, and activate your health goals. If you have already registered for free, you already have access to an interview with Dr. Greger, and a presentation by Dr. Brooke Goldner, which was released early.

Holistic Holiday at Home will feature some of today’s most important and inspirational plant-based experts: doctors, best-selling authors, chefs, fitness pros and others, including many of your favorites from Holistic Holiday at Sea. These experts will offer in-depth guidance based on their latest research. You’ll also hear from ground-breaking thought leaders who are joining us for the first time.

These are some areas of health the conference will cover:

– The most expensive disease in America (hint, it’s not heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or obesity)

– The best foods to fight cancer 

– The most commonly consumed foods by the world’s longest-lived people (Blue zones information tested)

– Why the Mediterranean Diet has been successful for many people (which attributes make it effective in preventing disease)

– Why people lack motivation and why changing habits is more powerful than willpower or “motivation” 

– How to move from a “sick care” system to a true “health care” system

– Which foods provide the best protection against disease

– Why following the money is the answer to most causes of illness (government subsidies, profit-based health care system, illness-focused culture, etc.)

– The latest groundbreaking research, including on heart disease, brain health, and other popular topics around health and nutrition

– How to best protect ourselves from COVID-19 Coronavirus, from a nutritional and medical perspective

– Which foods, and what diet is best for reversing autoimmune diseases (not just a whole-food, plant-based diet, but particular foods that are far superior to others)

– Why we can’t be healthy unless we have a healthy gut microbiome

– How to manage anxiety, stress, and pain, during an anxious, stressful, and painful time

Here’s the link to register for free.

Here are the experts who are part of the conference: Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Brooke Goldner, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Columbus Batiste, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, Brenda Davis, Dr. Michael Klaper, Dr. Joel Kahn, Dr. Ayesha Sherzai, Dr. Dean Sherzai, Matt Frazier, Gabriel Miller, Dr. Debra Kimless, Dr. Kim Williams, Warren Kramer, Jessica Porter, Natalie Matthews, Torre Washington, Dani Taylor, Korin Sutton, Giacomo Marchese, Chris Wark, Jon McMahon, and Ocean Robbins.

There are plenty of other speakers too, interviewed by other hosts, particularly chefs, activists, and health experts, pictured below.

This innovative and unique event has brought many of the best experts in the entire plant-based health and wellness community together for a week of presentations, lectures, interviews, cooking demos, fitness classes, mindfulness, entertainment, and more.

There are options to upgrade to get access to live Q&A events with plant-based doctors, and book club conversations with the authors of bestselling books, and to get 12 months of access to the entire program after it completes on August 1st, among other bonuses, including access to all the live events July 26-August 1, bonus ebooks, DVDs, transcripts of the event, and more, but the main program is free.

The free program is available for one week, and if you love it and want to upgrade to get access to the presentations and all the program content for a full year, you can do that before, during, or shortly after the event.

A plant-based diet causes weight loss, according to new study from the Physicians Committee

Adopting a vegetarian diet causes weight loss, even in the absence of exercise or calorie counting, according to a new meta-analysis published as an online advance in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

The average person making the diet switch loses about 10 pounds. However, the review found that people who were heavier to start with lost more weight. Greater weight loss is reported among men and among older participants.

Researchers with the nonprofit Physicians Committee reviewed 15 studies, conducted with 755 participants in Finland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. The 15 studies varied in length, from as short as four weeks to as long as two years, with an average weight loss of 10 pounds over a 44-week period.

“The take-home message is that a plant-based diet can help you lose weight without counting calories and without ramping up your exercise routine,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., lead author of the study, president of the Physicians Committee, and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We hope health care providers will take note and prescribe this approach to patients looking to manage their weight and health.”

More than 1.4 billion adults worldwide are overweight and at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and certain forms of cancer.

“If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can slash the risk of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., a study author and director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “As the weight comes off, you’ll start to see blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol fall right along with it.”

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